For the third week of summer camp we worked with some high schoolers to learn all about underwater physics, and build a series of designs including remote-controlled underwater robots.
We learned about buoyancy and creating neutrally buoyant systems in water and in air:
We learned about variable buoyancy by constructing submarines out of air-controlled balloon ballast chambers:
Then, we got to work on our Sea Perch underwater robots. Sea Perch is a national (international?) program and competition designed to get students building and using technology in a fun way. However, Sea Perch robots tend to look and perform very similarly, and we wanted to inject some more novelty into the mix. So, we threw away the instructions, and the pre-cut PVC frame. Teams would get 10 feet of PVC pipe and the contents of the Sea Perch kit (motors, propellers, switch board, controller, wires, other small pieces) to design a completely new underwater robot.
The designs were unique:
We hacked on all kind of neat gizmos, including a hydrophone (underwater microphone):
…an inductor coil (for sensing magnetic fields from underwater wire coils, and, via an induced magnetic field, collecting electrical signals that can be amplified):
…and an electromagnet (a wire coil that, when electricity is circulated, becomes magnetic).
It was a rush to the finish but every team made it:
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