Crossing the Channel STEM program

We are very passionate about getting kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Currently we run mentoring programs at three K-12 schools: a VEX Robotics Competition club at Briggs Middle School, ROV design and construction modules with Frank Middle School and Channel Islands High School. The ROV modules are part of the marine sciences academy of the two respective schools. The program is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is titled “Crossing the Channel”. It combines CSU Channel Islands faculty, students, and professional mentors, to teach the K-12 students about the Channel Islands, marine and environmental science.

Last week we spent two days with Channel Islands High School and reviewed the uses of ROVs in research. We covered all of the projects that the team is currently participating in, and some of the preliminary results. This got the students very excited because they had the opportunity last year to build PVC ROVs. Our research projects allowed them to see the real applications, and helped to link the topics in marine ecology and biology that they have been learning. Our team then reviewed the basics of designing ROVs, and eight teams designed and constructed their own.

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Being that the program is based on hierarchal mentoring, the high school students disassembled their ROVs and made them into kits, complete with instructions for their counterparts at Frank Middle School. Our team will be at Frank Middle School all next week, constructing the ROVs, applying buoyancy, ballast, motors, electronics and then piloting!

The following week, we will be taking both Frank Middle and Channel Islands High school students to Santa Rosa Island to visit our research station! We will be heading out aboard the NOAA research vessel, the R/V Shearwater, and along the way, members of our team will be deploying our OpenROVs in a research project, which will allow the K-12 students to witness real research being done with ROVs, and have the opportunity to actively participate!

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