How to Build a Remotely Operated Vehicle

Museum staff always work really hard to find ways to inspire young people, and our visitors, in science and the world around them. But we love being inspired by someone teaching us something new too. Recently, Erica Moulton of the MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) Center led Museum staff in a workshop to build and design remotely-operated (ROV) vehicles. ROVs can explore underwater environments where it is difficult or impossible for humans to go themselves. They can monitor coral reef systems, explore shipwrecks, or even go underneath ice sheets in Antarctica. They can observe, but also take photos, videos, and even collect specimens. And it takes a lot of people with many different skills to get ROVs from design to operation to observation to results – like electricians, engineers, and all different kinds of scientists, depending on what you want to learn from what the ROV observed or collected. But as we at the Museum always like to remind people, you can do science anywhere, at any time, with simple materials you can find in your kitchen drawers or at the local hardware store. Ms. Moulton, through a National Science Foundation ITEST grant, provided us with several ROV kits and all the materials necessary to build ROVs with our Museum audiences. She uses these same kits to work with schools and teachers on engaging students in ROVs, which then may be entered into regional and national ROV student competitions. At the workshop, we worked in teams to glue little propellers to motors, solder wires to electrical switches, build the frame of the ROV using pieces of PVC piping, and add foam tubing to help with floatation. Now our ROVs are ready to explore, and we are so excited to find all the ways to pass on our inspiration to our Museum audiences, and let others try their hand at ROV building and operating!

Our ROV in a Bag kit

Wiring and soldering the switches on the box to operate the ROV

Adding some foam to our almost-finished ROV frame

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