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There was a flurry of activity around the Chinquapin Park pool one recent Friday morning as the Alexandria Country Day School sixth graders tested the SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicles they built in science class.  Students ran their SeaPerch ROVs through an underwater obstacle course, attempted to pick up balls at the bottom of the pool, and tried to rescue ducks floating atop the surface.

As with many first-time trials, the students quickly discovered that there were several pool-side adjustments that needed to be made to optimize their vehicle’s performance.  Having spent the prior two weeks building the SeaPerch ROVs from scratch including soldering wires into the control box and building the motors, the sixth graders knew just what to do and were able to quickly make adjustments so their SeaPerch ROVs could successfully complete the challenges.

“Each year the students bring something new to the project, and this year they really impressed me with their innovative designs and terrific teamwork, “said teacher Scott Lieberman.  “I loved watching the students work together, whether it was to fix a broken motor or navigate the obstacle course.”

ACDS students build these SeaPerch ROVs each year as part of the sixth grade science curriculum. The students begin with an introduction to Design Thinking and build prototypes of their ROVs. While building the SeaPerch they learn about buoyancy, soldering, electronics, and other engineering principles associated with aquatic vessels. Throughout the entire project Mr. Lieberman emphasized the importance of good communication, collaboration, critical thinking and perseverance. As he often told the class, “mistakes are nothing more than a temporary setback and a authentic learning opportunity.”

The sixth graders’ work received a short feature on WUSA9 News.  Watch it here.

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