November 2, 2009

Sea Perch Workshop at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Brings Underwater Robotics into Classrooms

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - How can students build their own underwater robots? First, their teachers learn to build them, and then they bring the hands-on activity into their classrooms.

As part of MIT Sea Grant's Sea Perch Program, teachers from 23 Massachusetts high schools and middle schools will participate in a two-day workshop at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) from November 6-7. The Sea Perch program trains teachers, mentors and potential trainers how to build a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Known as Sea Perch, the vehicle is made with PVC pipe and other inexpensive materials. The program teaches basic underwater design skills and encourages the exploration of marine science and ocean engineering concepts and careers.

A Sea Perch is currently being used on the Ocean Watch, a sailing vessel participating in the Around the Americas. In that historic 25,000-mile clockwise-circumnavigation of the North and South American continents, the Sea Perch is collecting water samples, and that data is being added to the Sea Perch global water quality database.

The workshop is sponsored by MIT Sea Grant, The Museum Institute for Teaching Science, the Office of Naval Research, and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. The workshop is being held at Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 85 Prescott Street, Worcester, MA, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November 6-7, 2009.

In addition, MIT Sea Grant is launching the Sea Perch Institute (SPI), an in-depth training model in which students work together to solve open-ended problems. Though the SPI, schools apply to MIT Sea Grant for funding and commit to bringing Sea Perch into their curricula for two years.

MIT Sea Grant is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 30 programs working to promote the conservation and sustainable development of our marine resources through research, education, and outreach. Sea Grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For more information about Sea Perch, see http://seaperch.mit.edu .