Want to Build an Underwater Robot?

By Morgan Stair, Upper School Teacher 


The eighth grade Wellness Wednesday class, SeaPerch, is off and swimming. SeaPerch is an underwater robotics program where students build their very own remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to roam the sea (or pool) floor. It is another example of how Heilicher is integrating STEAM topics and techniques into the curriculum.

This fall, the program started by dividing 10 students into three different teams. Throughout the course of the year, each team must use a variety of tools including a PVC pipe cutter, power drill, and soldering iron, to create their ROV. Teams will need to communicate, problem solve, and, perhaps most challenging for 13-year-olds, read directions.

To help them along the way, Heilicher partnered with Juaned Sattar, a professor in the University of Minnesota Science and Engineering department, who specializes in underwater ROVs.

Students are keeping a journal of their responses, here are a few of their thoughts:  

Today my group cut up all our pipes, drilled all our elbows, and marked the drill holes. The only issue we encountered was figuring out how to share the cutters because there were three groups and two cutters. Eventually we managed to get it sorted. - Noa G.

Today our group attempted to finish the frame. We almost finished, but we have to drill the final holes in some of the pipes. We communicated fine. Robby did like to make every thing fair, but sometimes you just need to get things done. Overall our group did a good job today. - Gabe K.

Today we worked on the motors and the wires. When we were working during lunch, someone (me) broke the brown wire, by ACCIDENT. To our relief, the brown wire is not used in the SeaPerch robot. We stripped the rest of the wires and attached them to the motor. Hopefully we can finish the motor unit next week. -  Jacob K.

Here are some photos of SeaPerch students working on their ROVs. 

                               Robotics students at work.         Student drills PVC pipe.


  • Eighth Grade
  • robotics
  • Wellness Wednesday

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