As part of the sixth grade earth science curriculum, the students learned about invasive species and how they can affect an ecosystem. One species they focused on was the Crown of Thorns (COT) sea star. They learned how the sea star’s fast reproduction and limited predators on the Great Barrier Reef are creating quite a problem for that precious ecosystem. The COTs eat the algae in the coral which is causing the coral to die at rapid rates. Students then learned how scientists are using Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to learn to identify and inject vinegar into the COTs. The vinegar dissolves them from the inside out. These ROVs can work 24 hours a day in all kinds of weather conditions.
Ms. O recently attended an ROV course where she learned to create and operate SEAMate ROVs, and she was excited to bring this knowledge back to the classroom and share it with the sixth graders! Ms. O had the students team up to create their own ROVs in order to simulate the work of the scientists out on the reef. The students had to wire their electrical control box, wire the motors and assemble the propellers, design a frame, and decorate their ROV.
With the ROVs completed, the students were given the challenge of collecting COT’s from the local MCC Augusta Pool. Students had to figure out how to maneuver their ROV and remove the imitation COTs from the pool.
Through this process, the sixth graders learned a lot about electricity, engineering, design, scientific research and careers in both robotics and ecology. Many expressed how much they enjoyed taking part in and learning about robotics!