Local Elementary Students Test Underwater Robots at Yates Field House

Local Elementary Students Test Underwater Robots at Yates Field House

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On June 10, twenty-five fifth grade students from Hyde-Addison Elementary School in Georgetown visited Yates Field House to test their SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) projects in the pool. Rich Munz, the 5th grade STEM teacher at Hyde Elementary, began the project with his students in December 2014. After months of work, all were very excited to test the results of their labor.

SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program sponsored in part by the United States Navy Office of Naval Research and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The program teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. The fifth grade students built their projects completely from scratch using an assortment of PVC pipes, foam, mechanical wires, and batteries. Through the process, the students also learned to safely use tools such as saws and soldering irons.

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Hyde Elementary does not have its own pool, so the Yates staff opened the McCarthy Pool for their students.

“We were happy to let the Hyde students use the pool to test their robots,” said Jim Gilroy, director of Yates Field House. “It’s a great opportunity for the university to partner with our neighborhood.”

Once at the pool, the students worked in groups and diligently made last-minute adjustments to their robots, occasionally calling out “Mr. Munz!” to ask for help. Over the next two hours, the students alternated between testing their projects and making adjustments. By the end, all of the robots were functioning to some degree and the students were enjoying the chance operate their creations all around the pool.

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Through the SeaPerch project, the fifth-grade students completed an advanced curriculum normally meant for middle schoolers. According to one chaperone, the school hopes students will gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for the work that goes into crafting remote controlled and robotic toys.

“The kids had a blast,” Munz said afterward. “This event was the culmination of over seven months of building and preparation. It is great to have Georgetown as a partner as we strive to bring rich STEM experiences to our diverse student population.”