PSE&G grant allows ROV summer camp to continue to second year

December 2nd, 2014

JERSEY CITY — The Hudson County Schools of Technology Foundation and New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium were awarded a $14,552 grant from the PSE&G SPARK Foundation to to continue their underwater exploration summer camp, Aquatic Adventures — Science Enrichment Workshop, for High Technology Middle School Explore 2000 students

This is the second year that Public Service Electric & Gas’s SPARK Foundations has funded the summer camp, which focuses on the development and use of remotely operated vehichles, or ROVs, in deep-sea exploartion.

The program is designed to increase the consortium’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, offerings while continuing to focus on ocean sciences, said Diana Burich, the consortium K-12 program coordinator.

Late last year, the foundation and the consortium were awarded $24,000 in grants from PSE&G and the PADI Foundation to bring underwater robotics programs to afterschool and out-of-school settings.

“We proposed to develop and implement a four-day summer camp program for students from High Technology Middle School’s Explore 2000, in Jersey City, and provide a professional development workshop for their teachers to perpetuate the underwater robotics program in Jersey City in the future,” Burich said. “All of the activities for camp were student-centered and hands-on, and encouraged the children’s natural sense of inquiry.”

Curriculum and activities were developed for Aquatic Adventures – Science Enrichment Workshop to engage students in inquiry-based activities in coastal ecology and estuarine research and technology with a focus on underwater exploration using remotely operated vehicles.

During the course of the four-day workshop administered by NJSGC education staff last summer, students researched the development and use of research vessels for ocean exploration, and explored subjects such as density, buoyancy, volume, pressure, water chemistry, ocean habitat ecology, physics of sound and use of sonar in navigation and seafloor mapping.

They used math skills to convert measurements to graphs and topographical and bathymetric maps, and they explored experimental engineering design in the construction and operation of ROVs.

Students were shown how their school work transferred to real-life situations with a visit from the Pegasus team from Stevens Institute of Technology, a group of undergraduates who developed an underwater ROV that detected metal for the Department of Defense. Additionally, a field trip to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service’s James J. Howard Marine Laboratory at Sandy Hook took place where students not only toured research facilities but met with scientists actively engaged in ground-breaking ocean exploration using ROVs.

They also designed and built remotely-operated underwater vehicles, or ROVs, using kits provided by the grant and the NJSGC.

At the Explore 2000 camp, students participated in a presentation on underwater exploration that covered why it is important to explore the ocean, and how ROVs can be used when circumstances or finances do not allow humans to physically explore. Students were then given the opportunity to design and build the housing for the ROVs, and then test them right away in a children’s swimming pool to perfect their designs.

Ultimately, manipulatives like sand shovels and plastic hooks, were added to the designs so the students could run a mission by retrieving a pool toy.

“It was well-received with accolades from students and teachers alike, so we thought it worthwhile to pursue continued development,” Burich said.

“Development of this project was not only exciting but a learning experience as well, and we hope to continue utilizing the materials compiled in program offerings for NJSGC,” Burich said.