Most of us remember Middle School science like it was yesterday. Fun labs, interesting topics, and a multitude of different studies of science are what makes Middle School science so interesting. Having been at Collegiate in Middle School, I can vividly remember most of these activities and recall always enjoying science class, except for when one of Middle School science teacher Mr. Paul Lupini’s musical demerits made its way to my desk. While some things like musical demerits will never change, the rest of the Middle School science department is making tremendous leaps with new lesson content and new technology being used to teach. During my time in the Middle School, science classes were fairly straightforward, with the goal of ultimately being able to prepare students for the Upper School science curriculum. Now things are beginning to change. Lupini is using new techniques and labs to teach his students.
Middle Schoolers have been creating and using wind turbines as an introduction to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and to hone their engineering and measurement skills. Sixth graders are also learning how to build small, remotely-operated underwater vehicles, or ROV’s, that they will eventually test against classmates. Students are now able to branch out and learn skills that go beyond just preparation for the next level of science.
There is a national ROV program that hosts an annual competition for students called Seaperch. Seaperch is a program that was started by the U.S Navy that aims to teach and inform students about ROV’s and their purpose. ROV’s are now used around the world for a number of different scenarios, including underwater recovery, research, and underwater inspection of ships and submarines. Having students understand these uses and giving them the ability to create is extremely valuable and is a major change that Collegiate has implemented when it comes to teaching using technology.
Collegiate only uses the Seaperch program as a model, however; they do not participate in the national competition. Instead, Collegiate recreates the national competition that Seaperch runs. Lupini says, “We want as many students to participate in the ROV competition as possible, but doing it with Seaperch would only allow for one team to compete.” By recreating the competition, all students are able to be on a team that builds, tests, and competes with a ROV. Students receive pre-packaged parts that they need in order build their ROV.
Wednesday, October 12th marked the first official day of the year-long sixth grade ROV project. Students were briefed on what their mission is and were able to pick teams. The ROV project will last throughout the entire year and will tie into different aspects of the curriculum. Lupini’s classes will work on their ROV’s every “Day Eight” of the schedule rotation. Each team will also create a specification sheet that will contain specific information on their ROV, including a full list of measurements and materials. Groups will also learn how to solder wire together in order to complete circuits and give their ROV the ability to move. Groups will be graded on a few criteria, like the assembly of the ROV and the groups’ performance in the underwater obstacle course that will be set up at the Collegiate Aquatics center in the spring.