Underwater robots surface at Velocity Jr.
A group of students recently plunged into science at an underwater robotics camp.
The week-long camp, one of nearly 20 science and technology-related programs offered at the newly-opened Velocity Jr., allowed students to build and tests a working underwater robot.
"I love inventing things and combining ideas with those of my teammates," sixth-grader Anya Gerstenberg said.
The underwater program is coordinated in conjunction with Utica Community Schools by the Square One Education Network - an organization sponsored by companies such as Ford Motor - with staff from the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum and the Macomb Community College "College 4 Kids" program.
Called "ROV in a Bucket," the program allowed students to spend a week building a hands-one, fully functional robot from scratch.
"I think the kids are having a terrific time with a lot of hands-on learning," said Barb Land, of the Square One Education Network.
Students create their robots out of pieces given to them in a big bucket. The students used PVC pipe in various lengths, foam for buoyancy, connecters and plastic parts like propellers etc. to end up with a unique vehicle of their team’s design.
Land said the program stresses physics principles such as buoyancy, force and motion, and basic design engineering principles: brainstorming, designing, building, testing, modifying, and perfecting.
Jacob Hamameh, sixth grader in the fall at Schuchard Elementary, said his team focused on establishing neutral buoyancy “to get the robot to maneuver in the water, not float on top or sink to the bottom.” The team added and removed weight to test their robot.
Malow eighth grader Mike Manoogian, who plans to become a meteorologist, thinks a Remote Operated Vehicle would be particularly useful for rescues during hurricanes or repairing underwater equipment.
In addition to building their robot, Manoogian said the members of his team also enjoyed learning about the recovery in 2003 of the S.S. Republic - a Civil War era paddle steamship that sank off the coast of Georgia in 1865 with a reported $400,000 worth of gold coins. The recovery was conducted by Odyssey Marine Exploration with ROVs, using the same principals students were learning in camp.
Click play for a short video on the underwater robotics program.