Sea Perch Institute Challenge 2011

SPI 2010-2011 included teams from Swampscott Middle School (Swampscott, Mass.), Rogers High School (Newport, R.I.), Dexter-Southfield High School (Brookline, Mass.) and Stoneham High School (Stoneham, Mass.).

Throughout the year, teachers traveled to the MIT campus for professional development meetings that helped them create their classroom plans. Meeting topics included ideation, information on historical oil spills, microcontrollers, materials, and machining techniques.

SPI Challenge 2011 took place on May 6th at MIT's Zesiger Athletic Center pool. Over 300 students attended, each school working to accomplish one or more goals.

The event began with a bang, as the underwater oil pipe burst and started releasing a simulated oil material into the pool. Hot water and regulated air bubbles were pumped into the pipe to create a visible plume, and a temperature change in the water was used to represent the oil, a fluid of different density.

The event was separated into five, 30-minute stages:

Stage 1: Containment and Observation
Dexter Southfield's Sea Perch ROV, equipped with cameras, entered the simulation and began working to get a video feed of the broken pipe. As this was occurring, Rogers, with assistance from Swampscott vehicles, laid boom to contain the surface spill. Once underwater visuals were confirmed and the surface spill contained, teams were able to move on to the next stage.

Stage 2: Damage Assessment
The visualization team remained in the water and began to search along the pipe for the blowout. During this time, Stoneham's measurement team, equipped with real-time temperature sensors, entered the simulation to locate the blowout by measuring the temperature. Flow-rate measurements were planned but not executed at this stage. During this time Rogers also made measurements of the simulated "oil plume" from a distance.

Stage 3: Wreckage Removal
During this stage, the visualization team remained to help guide Swampscott's cutting and wreckage removal teams, as they worked to cut away the pipe to prepare it for capping, and clear away debris.

Stage 4: Capping
Once the pipe was cut and the wreckage removed, Stoneham's capping team came in to cap the newly cut pipe. These teams deployed several different capping designs with varying success.

Stage 5: Remediation
A remediation effort was planned by Rogers, but due to time constraints and failure to fully cap the well-head, the plan was not completed.

This page was last modified: August 4, 2014 10:48 am


Rachel VanCott
Ocean Literacy Communicator
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Kathryn Shroyer
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