May 5, 2010

Sea Perch Institute Challenge with High School & Middle School Students June 1, MIT Zesiger Center Pool

Cambridge, MA, May 5, 2010— The MIT Sea Grant College program will present the final underwater robotics projects of Sea Perch Institute students at MIT’s Zesiger Athletic Center pool, June 1, 2010 from 9 AM to 1 PM. The 250 students from four schools will be presented with a complex problem to resolve using their Sea Perch vehicles: A cargo ship has gone down in Boston Harbor and the student groups must respond using their Sea Perches for mapping, water quality analysis, and recovery if indicated. A college and career fair will take place 11-1pm. The Zesiger Athletic Center is located in MIT Building West 35 at 120 Vassar Street in Cambridge, near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sea Perch is a simple, remotely operated underwater vehicle, or ROV, made from PVC pipe and other inexpensive, easily available materials. The Sea Perch Program, created by the MIT Sea Grant College Program in 2003, trains educators across the United States and around the world to build the Sea Perch. Teachers then work with students to build their own customized Sea Perches and deploy them on research missions in nearby bodies of water. The hands-on Sea Perch experience is a gateway to further study and careers in robotics, engineering, marine sciences and more. Sea Perch been implemented by over 300 teachers in 16 US states and internationally.

The new multi-year program, the Sea Perch Institute (SPI), works with veteran Sea Perch schools to build upon the basic Sea Perch course with more advanced and multidisciplinary curriculum. To be selected for the program, schools were required to demonstrate support from school administration and the involvement of multiple teachers and classrooms.

For the 2009-2010 academic year, MITSG worked with Meridian Academy (Brookline, MA), Minuteman Regional High School (Lexington, MA), Rogers High School (Newport, RI), and Swampscott Middle School (Swampscott, MA). For these schools, MIT Sea Grant has provided monthly classroom visits, mentoring, professional development opportunities, cost-sharing of supplies and materials as well as opportunities to bring students to MIT to tour labs and test vehicles. The students spent the year engaged in hands-on learning in “real world” situations through simulated engineering experiences in marine robotics. The Sea Perch Institute was developed and implemented by MIT Sea Grant, and is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

At the June 1 event, students will be presented with a complex problem to resolve using their Sea Perch vehicles: A cargo ship has gone down in Boston Harbor and the student groups must respond using their Sea Perches for mapping, water quality analysis, and recovery if indicated. To simulate the challenge, a model ship with cargo will be sunk in the Zesiger pool. The four schools will work progressively, cooperatively, and against the clock to complete this mission. Each school has been assigned a task and must complete their work within 45 minutes. The assignments are as follows:

Meridian Academy: Mapping. Using their Sea Perches, the Meridian Academy students must find and map the location of the wreck and cargo.

Swampscott Middle School: Water quality. The Swampscott students, using the map provided by the Meridian students will collect and analyze water samples from around the wreck using their specialized Sea Perch vehicles. These students must determine if anything is leaking from the wrecked ship or its cargo and if so, whether the substance(s) are hazardous. Students will mark the site(s) of any contamination sites on the map.

Rogers High School: Cargo recovery. Using Sea Perches fitted with grabber arms, the Rogers students must recover the cargo containers, starting with those deemed most hazardous by the Swampscott students.

Minuteman Regional High School: Ship recovery or relocation. With the wreck now lightened by the Rogers students cargo recovery operation, the Lexington students must use their Sea Perches to determine if they can raise the ship to the surface and bring it to shore, or take it “out to sea,” sink it, and use it for an artificial reef.

The intent of the fair is to bridge the school-based learning activities with a university course of study leading to a fulfilling career as a marine scientist/engineer/policy maker. Committed exhibitors include MIT research labs, the Environmental Protection Agency, and First Robotics.

The mission of the MIT Sea Grant College Program is to employ innovative research, education and outreach strategies to responsibly use and sustain the vital marine resources of Massachusetts. The issues we address manifest locally but many are global in nature. Compelling challenges demand our attention as a solo entity and in partnership with other groups living and working on the coasts and at sea. MIT Sea Grant brings the substantial intellectual abilities of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and our sister universities to bear on ocean-related challenges requiring an extraordinary technical contribution. In meeting these challenges, we expand human understanding of the ocean and establish the infrastructure to sustain the initiatives and talent pool needed to address complex issues of critical and fragile marine resources.


MIT Sea Grant College Program
Mail to: 77 Massachusetts Avenue, E38-300, Cambridge, MA 02139
To visit: 292 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02140


Two middle school students modify their Sea Perch

Quick Links