By: Travis Wahl, Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member
The Guide - July 2015
Students from Ella White Elementary of Alpena Public Schools have been challenging themselves and their engineering skills by building underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Their engineering excellence and creativity in applying their underwater robotics experience toward enhancing their local environment has gained them opportunity to work alongside Great Lakes Scientists – along with some impressive national recognition achievements!
In collaboration with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 4-H Youth Development Programs, and the Alpena Robot Factory 4-H Club, these students engineered and built their own ROVs. Each student learned about a ROVs framework, electrical wiring, soldering, and buoyancy calculations to make sure the ROV does not sink or float. ROV construction, however, was not the only task for these fifth grade students. Their ROVs were tested in more ways than one, including an Engineered Lake Trout Delivery System and the 2015 Great Lakes Regional MATE ROV Competition.
The Engineered Lake Trout Delivery System project began thanks to Ella White Elementary teacher and Robot Factory 4-H Club leader, Bob Thomson. Thomson’s class has been a long-term partner with Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) network, establishing the Thunder Bay Watershed Project – where students engage in a variety of watershed science and studies, including monitoring water quality, tracking populations of aquatic invasive species, and restoring native fish species in collaboration with US Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan DNR...