Students participating in Shedd’s Underwater Robotics professional development programWhen Stephanie Hoerner was a first-year teacher, she wanted a unique way to engage her eighth-grade students. Stephanie had attended Shedd’s Underwater Robotics professional development program, in which she built her own remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and used it to conduct field research. She adapted this program for her students, to give them an interactive learning experience.

Stephanie used the training and materials Shedd provided to start an Underwater ROV Club at her school. “It was quite the learning experience for all of us," she says, "but several of the students were incredibly dedicated to the process.” Through this program, her students were able to use the trial-and-error testing process and learn firsthand about buoyancy, circuitry and electricity.

The club is in its second year, and returning students are teaching a new crop of students what they learned. “I started them off with a taste of what driving an ROV is like,” Stephanie says. To spark their interest, she attached the ROV camera to a remotely controlled toy car. Steering by looking at a television screen in their classroom, students took turns driving the car down the hallway—and occasionally into other classrooms. "While this was certainly a comedic way to spark their interest," the teacher says, "they were also able to discover what driving a real ROV might be like." They developed a better understanding of how important camera placement is to the success of an ROV when conducting research.

If your school doesn’t have regular access to a pool, you can adapt the program the way Stephanie did, using a pool several times in the spring to test and make final preparations. “I highly recommend starting an ROV club at your school. There are so many benefits to your students. All you need is a few hours a week after school, a corner to store the ROV and a lot of enthusiasm!”

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