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ROV Workshop Teaches Marine Science and Underwater Technology to Educators and High School Students

Teachers beginning work on wiring ROV control boxes. (Photo credit:  Tina Miller-Way, DISL)

July 2012 -- Aimed at exciting high school teachers and students about the possibilities of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) facilitated Deep-C's first teacher workshop July 22-26, 2012. DISL designed the workshop to provide educators with an engaging and fun way to teach marine science and underwater technology in their classrooms. It was the first in a series of related activities that the selected teachers and their students will participate in over the next two years as part of Deep-C’s commitment to increasing the number of future STEM professionals.

Focus on developing STEM skills has gained nationwide attention in K-12 education. The purpose is to excite and prepare students for majors and careers as scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians in order to meet the growing demands of the 21st century.

Workshop participants test their ROVs.  (Photo credit:  Tina Miller-Way, DISL)

“Enthusiastic and well-prepared educators are the key to a successful STEM effort,” says Tina-Miller-Way, Chair, DISL Discovery Hall Programs. “Our program is designed to inspire teachers and students to explore science in a way that goes beyond textbooks by giving them hands-on science and technology experiences.”

The 12 teachers selected to participate in this inaugural workshop came from around Florida. The subjects taught by participants include biology, physics, math, robotics and chemistry.

During the course of the four-day workshop, participants built a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) from simple motors, basic wiring and PVC pipe and tested their design in a pool. The teachers also attended lectures and had discussions with scientists, such as Deep-C researcher Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor (Florida State University), who use ROVs in their research.  An overview of the Deep-C project was presented by Dr. Felicia Coleman, Deep-C’s scientific director and director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.

Mr. Nick Lupton from Pine Forest High School in Pensacola flying the ROV. (Photo credit: Tina Miller-Way, DISL)

There were numerous hands-on activities including classroom activities exploring buoyancy, basic engineering principles, basic circuitry and deep sea oceanography. They also discussed how ROV technology can be integrated into high school curricula that are tied to state and national standards. Perhaps most fun of all was an all-day boat trip where the participants deployed and piloted a research ROV around the hard bottom habitats offshore of Mobile Bay.  They also had the opportunity to use common sampling equipment such as CTDs, trawls, grabs and plankton nets while on the boat.  On the last day, teachers conducted a mock competition with their uniquely designed ROVs as this multi-phase program will culminate in a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) regional competition for their students in the spring of 2013 and 2014. 

“The nature of the Deep-C project — the issues involved in understanding and protecting ecological communities in the Gulf of Mexico — provides rich opportunities for engagement with K-12 teachers and students,” says Tracy Ippolito, Deep-C Coordinator. “Through the work Deep-C is doing, we can help promote science education in tangible ways, and share some of the wonder and awe of scientific discovery.”

The Deep-C (Deep Sea to Coast Connectivity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico) Consortium is a long-term, interdisciplinary study of deep sea to coast connectivity in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The study is investigating the environmental consequences of petroleum hydrocarbon release in the deep Gulf on living marine resources and ecosystem health. Deep-C research is made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. 


See highlights (including a video) from the 2013 ROV Competition, held March 1-3 at Dauphin Island Sea Lab.



Tina Miller-Way
Dr. Tina Miller-Way is Scientist/Educator, Northern Gulf Institute Liaison at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL). The lab, located in southern Mobile County off Alabama's Gulf Coast, is well-known for their excellence in education and outreach programming. As a marine laboratory, DISL's mission encompasses marine science education, marine science research, coastal zone management policy and educating the general public through the Estuarium, Dauphin Island Sea Lab's public aquarium. The lab partners with more than 20 colleges and with primary schools to offer marine science coursework up to the graduate level. The research programs of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab range from biogeochemistry and oceanography to systems ecology. Most research focuses on the near-shore and estuarine processes of Mobile Bay, field sites of our internationally-renowned faculty include Mexico, Australia, and Croatia and other countries.


Deep-C was a four-year, interdisciplinary study of deep sea to coast connectivity in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.Deep-C is no longer an active research project.  The information on this website is for historical reference purposes only. 

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