Volume No. 11 Issue No. 3 March 2014  



  D 49 students test robots
  By Lindsey Harrison

     On Feb. 14, at the Woodmen Hills Recreation Center East swimming pool, about 50 middle school students from the Patriot Learning Center in Falcon School District 49 tested their building project, the underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle.
   
   The ROVs were built by each student team using the “SeaPerch” robotics kit, received because of a grant from the United States Navy. The kits provide the materials such as PVC pipes, floatation pieces and parts to build the thrusters, but the students built the whole ROV and control box, including the components within the box, said Paul Austin, science, technology, engineering and math teacher at PLC. “They waterproof the motors, solder the alligator clips onto the wires, all of it,” Austin said.
   
   According to the SeaPerch website, the goal of programs like SeaPerch is “to engage and inspire young people by exposing them to exciting, hands-on, and mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, while at the same time fostering self-confidence and life skills.”
   SeaPerch is funded by the Office of Naval Research.
   Austin said the Feb. 14 event equaled a written test. “I call it their challenge slash celebration,” he said.
   
   The test involved the completion of two challenges, Austin said. With the first, the students had to steer the ROV through an underwater obstacle course of hula hoops submerged at varying heights; second, the ROV had to retrieve rings hooked on an underwater apparatus and deposit them in a bucket. Students worked in teams, and each team had 10 minutes to complete each task, Austin said.
   
   Students had to control the ROVs from the side of the pool using just the remote control box, attached to the ROV by an electrical wire, he said. The ROVs can move forward, backwards, side to side and up and down.
   
   The ROVs passed the underwater tests, to the delight of the student/builders.
 
Seventh grade PLC student Max Richards steers the SeaPerch he built with teammate Gavin Collins to drop the ring he retrieved into the bucket at the bottom of the pool. Richards was able to retrieve two rings and get them into the bucket in under 5 minutes.
 
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