The Office of Naval Research partnered with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, to introduce underwater robotics to children at Staten Island's Stapleton Pier during Fleet Week New York 2008, May 21-28.
Before and after touring three ships moored at Stapleton Pier - USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Nitze (DDG 94) and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) - children and adults alike flocked to the booth of the Sea Perch project for a chance to play with miniature remote-controlled submersibles.
A collaborative effort between the Office of Naval Research and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Sea Perch program gives elementary, middle- and high-school students an opportunity to build their own underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Made out of PVC pipe and other small parts, the robots provide advanced lessons in buoyancy and ship and submarine design. They also encourage interest in science, engineering and mathematics.
And kids love them. Ten-year old Ezra Cabot, who tried his hand at operating a submersible during Fleet Week, called it "very cool."
"We've seen parents who were forced to drag their children away," said Steven Stumpp of the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock division in Bethesda, Md.
"Actually, some of the adults have gotten more of a kick out of it than their kids because of the complexities of the controls. Some of the kids are used to video game-consoles."
Sea Perch is intended to appeal to those with an interest in science and engineering by introducing them to underwater mini-submersibles that kids can build, test and troubleshoot using off-the-shelf items. In addition to discussing potential careers in technical and engineering fields, the curriculum teaches problem-solving techniques and teamwork.
"The Office of Naval Research has supported Fleet Week to educate the local and military community about the missions of the Office of Naval Research, and to showcase some of the new technologies," said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel B. Bilow, a deputy public affairs officer for the Office of Naval Research.
For more information about Sea Perch, visit www.seaperch.org.
For more news from Navy Office of Information East, visit www.navy.mil/local/navinfoeast/.