SeaPerch Program Offers Epic Students The Chance To Explore Life Under Water

by Deborah Horn

It’s one thing to talk about the ocean.

It’s another thing to go take a look at it.

This year, some teachers at Epic Charter School are using SeaPerch, an underwater robotics program, to show students the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle in an in-school or out-of-school setting.

Karian Rackley is studying underwater robotics using the SeaPerch program. ENN Photo by Deborah Horn

Epic teacher Lynelle Cooper said she used the program to help her students see the potential for underwater robots.

I feel learning anything, but especially science is best done physically,” Cooper said. “I was in a program called 4-H which was like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. The 4-H motto was ‘learn by doing.’” 

Cooper said most of what she remembered learning growing up was learned by doing a project. “When I have the opportunity to have kids do a project, I jump on it,” she said.

She said she chose SeaPerch because it paves the way for STEM careers. Information on the company’s website said SeaPerch provides teachers and students with the equipment and instructions to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle. The program originated in a book as a small project titled “How to Build an Underwater Robot” and later transitioned over time to the basis of a curriculum, then was used to train teachers, before finally becoming the K-12 outreach program it is today. 

Cooper said SeaPerch can help students see the potential for underwater robots. 

“Our goal isn’t to put our robots to use, but to experiment with technology and learn about robots and how they can be used to help the environment,” she said. “The robots can be used locally to pick up trash or take water samples from pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, or any body of water, really. It’s to get them (the students) involved in the maker community or to create something that is useful or creative. Projects like this help students become producers instead of consumers.” 

She said SeaPerch is an informative, fun, and challenging and allows kids to get creative with their projects, while still guiding students to a functioning finished product. The program uses a hands-on approach to teach students basic engineering and science subjects and also helps to instruct students on global and environmental concerns. 

One of the ways the SeaPerch robot can be used, the company said, is to clean the water of trash, such as plastic bottles, wrappers or other hazards. Many users of the technology have been challenged to use their ROVs in a practical way, such as cleaning a local river.

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