Scott 2 students learn STEM skills using SeaPerch underwater vehicles

Scott 2 students learn STEM skills using SeaPerch underwater vehicles
Posted on 04/29/2017

Standing around the edge of a swimming pool, dozens of high-ability students in the fourth-grade at Scott County School District 2 operate small, underwater vehicles with remote controls.

“We started this after Christmas,” said Chuck Rose, director of elementary education at Scott 2.

Each elementary school in the district has one to two marine-engineered vehicles, which were created from a kit from SeaPerch. SeaPerch is a national program that provides students with the resources to build an underwater, remote-operated vehicle. The vehicles are built from kits, which SeaPerch offers.

“The kits were very easy to put together. We probably worked on them five different class sessions,” said Stacy Doriot, high ability coordinator at Scott 2. “A [Scottsburg High School] class did the welding for them.”

By assembling the kits and working with their vehicles, students learn engineering, physics, electronics, and other science concepts and skills. They also keep scientific notebooks, work as a team, and see the importance of design and sportsmanship.

“We worked together to find ways to expand their minds,” said Ray Niehaus, managing director of innovation and technology at Mid-America Science Park, about his collaboration with Rose and working with the SeaPerch kits. “It takes math to cut all the PVC — everything has to be balanced and in proportion. A lot of them got to solder for the first time for the electronics. They even got to pick their own paint scheme.”

“I liked working together. All the girls tried to take charge,” said Meade McNeely, a fourth-grade student at Scottsburg Elementary School. “The electronic part is the best. If you think about it, it’s easy. The measuring is very complicated.”

Each team of students assembled every piece of the SeaPerch kit, creating their underwater vehicle, so it can maneuver through obstacles during a timed race. They will remotely control the vehicle to dive and turn to go through the submerged hoops. The students will compete against each other today at the Scott County YMCA.

“We have safety in mind,” Niehaus said. “It’s something we need to teach students early.”

“I think we are ready to compete,” said Ellie Richardson, a fourth-grade student at Johnson Elementary School.

“We had to learn how to drive and how to weight it,” said Autumn Couch, a fourth-grade student at JES.

Niehaus said the Scott 2 fourth-grade students are one of the youngest groups ever in the state to use the SeaPerch robots.

“We kind of made headway with robotics, in general, this year. It’s a neat extension,” Rose said. “It’s a good learning experience and motivational experience.”

School officials hope to keep doing the project along with other projects using emerging technologies in the future.

“We get to keep the completed SeaPerch projects from this year. We hope to utilize them with different grades by adding a grasping arm or camera for different tasks,” Doriot said. “I hope to do the SeaPerch project next year. The students really enjoyed building a robot, and being able to drive it under water just made it better.”

Earlier this school year, Scott 2 fifth-grade high-ability students created 3-D printed, prosthetic hands to send to other children around the world, who cannot afford or readily have access to prosthetic limbs.

“My goal is to have a special project for our high-ability kids,” Rose said.

“I think it is important for every student to have as many different opportunities as they can in school. You never know what will spark an interest in a child that will help them decide what they want to do when they grow up,” Doriot said.

At Scott County School District 2, the fourth-grade students’ story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.