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King Students Explore Using Robots to Combat Invasive Aquatic Plants

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King Students Explore Using Robots to Combat Invasive Aquatic Plants
Posted on 09/17/2015
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Throughout the fall, some King Middle School seventh-graders will be investigating invasive plant species in Maine through a technologically innovative expedition called R.E.D. (research, engineering and deployment) Rovers.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has asked Windsor 7 students if they'd be willing to help the agency see if and how ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) can help identify aquatic invasive species in Maine and play a role in remediating their spread.

Engineers from the Office of Naval Research at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery will be assisting students in the building and testing of a type of ROV (small, remotely operated submersibles called SeaPerches). Once the students have built their ROVs they will engage in the scientific method and engineering design process to modify their machines for photographing invasive plants.

After a field trip to Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth on Friday, Sept. 18, to identify some invasive species, the students will work with the engineers to build 35 ROVs next week, on Sept. 21, 22 and 23. The ROVs will be made from PVC pipe and other inexpensive, easily available materials. They were developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and several King teachers learned how to build them at a workshop this summer and are eager to share that knowledge with students.

After the ROVs are built, the students will test them at local swimming pools and modify them before taking them into the field to start gathering data.

In tandem with this STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) project, the students also will explore technology through literature and research in their language arts and social studies courses. For example, the students will read “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” as a case study of how a community issue can be addressed through the innovative use of technology. They’ll also research other cases of technology being used to address community issues around the globe. They’ll publish their findings from that research and also from their ROV project. They’ll also present formal, scientific reports to the DEP.

“We are excited about this project, and happy to be working with so many different partners in the field,” said Nancy Berrang, King Middle School partnership coordinator.

King Middle School, located at 92 Deering Avenue, is a high-achieving, highly diverse Expeditionary Learning public school at the forefront of national school reform.
Photo of invasive species King students are studying Photo of crabs, another type of invasive species