Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ROV building lab brings STEM skills into focus

Nathan Omland, left, and Gerrard Minnis get ready to test
their ROV.
Students in Dr. Debra Woodall’s Introduction to Oceanography course (OCE1001) plunged into Daytona State’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies programs recently by designing and building the perfect, well, crab trap.
Woodall’s first remotely operated vehicle building lab is a study in ocean engineering and environmental sampling. It calls for students to design, build and test a small ROV that will collect underwater samples - in this case, objects representing crabs and filter feeders - which were placed at the bottom of pools during labs that took place on the Daytona Beach Campus and at the Edgewater and DeLand YMCAs.
The exercise is Woodall’s attempt to enhance the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) component of her class. 
From left, Sandra Comte, Mandy Ridley, Marquetta Counts
and Latrice Kinsler show off their sub-surface explorer.
“The lab went far beyond anything I could have imagined,” she said. “The students were enthused and engaged beyond my expectations, and they went away surprised at just how successful they were, with many expressing a new sense of accomplishment and excitement.”
Students were first introduced to the fundamentals of underwater ROVs and how they are used to collect and analyze sub-surface species. Then, they were left to their own imaginations to build working models using kit materials provided by the Marine AdvancedTechnology Education Center (MATE) headquartered in Montery, CA.
Woodall said the ROV building lab will become a permanent part of the Introduction to Oceanography course, which is required for a variety of the institute’s degree offerings, including the Associate of Science in Environmental Science Technology degree and associate of arts/university transfer advising tracks in Marine Science and Marine Biology. 
Students enrolled in Daytona State’s Bachelor of Science in Secondary Earth/Space Science Education degree program also are required to take the Introduction to Oceanography course. “The goal here is to encourage these future teachers to engage their students with this method,” Woodall said. “Many students underestimate their abilities. This experience offers those who will become teachers in particular evidence of how providing students such a challenge can help them realize their true capabilities and build their confidence.”
Daytona State has formal articulation agreements with Florida Atlantic University, Stetson University and the University of Central Florida that allow students to seamlessly transfer to upper division programs following completion of a variety of the institute’s university transfer advising tracks.