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developed by the MATE center – underwater and remotely! The competition begins with a mission scenario and detailed


tasks. The mission scenario was based on the historical records of the SS Gardner, which sank in 1942, carrying a cargo of roughly 5 million gallons of bunker (fuel) oil. The ship, which was hit and sunk by a German U-boat, now lies on the ocean floor approxi- mately 30 nautical miles off of the east coast of Florida. The students’ mission was to complete an assessment of the


vessel, including its location and orientation on the sea floor; the debris field that surrounds it; the state of its hull and contents on board; and any other information necessary to develop and carry out a plan to remove any remaining oil. Students were challenged to design sensors that would simu-


late an ultrasonic thickness gauge and a neutron backscatter de- vice. The MateRover task specifications state that “The ultrasonic thickness gauge works by measuring the amount of time it takes for sound waves to travel through the hull and back. It then calculates the thickness based on the speed of the sound through the hull. ... The thickness of the hull is used to calibrate the neutron backscat- ter device. Once calibrated, (the students) placed the neutron back- scatter device on the hull to test for the presence of oil. ”


Teacher preparation At the beginning of the MATE ROV challenge, Long Beach USD


teachers received extensive training at Long Beach City College, with the assistance of Scott Fraser and many volunteers from his robotics program, along with community and business volunteers. The training included basic design processes, an overview of Direct Current (DC) theory, development of a prototype robot, and prac- tice with neutral buoyancy with the prototype. Due to the engaging nature of the project, teachers were highly


motivated as they prepared to give their students an academically rigorous and “real world” problem-solving experience. Parents were enthralled as they observed their children participating in the “hands-on and mind-on” academic and technical challenges.


From conceptual ideas to design and prototyping At the school site, teacher coordinators and students met to


begin the conceptual design process, beginning with brainstorm- ing, and then transitioning to sketching and building various pro- totype ROVs. The design process includes planning and working with the guidelines (and constraints) of the technical specifications provided. For example, the 12V motors/propellers were required to be contained within the footprint of the vehicle, and if the pro- pellers were outside the footprint, they were required to be housed within a sleeved shield/housing. Additional factors to consider were the weight distribution and


balance that the apparatus needed for the actual tasks, including the 12V cameras. Included in the process were calculations of the amount of foam needed to counter the weight of the vehicle so that neutral buoyancy could be achieved. Once a prototype ROV was developed, the vehicle was taken to a pool or body of water, where the propulsion system and buoyancy


Beach High School students Christian Mojica (left) and Edward Rhodes (second from right) show their ROV to judges at a Long Beach competition.


review was conducted by separate judges, who questioned the stu- dents on their actual participation, from concept to design, proto-


typing, fabrication, testing and their results.


Outcomes: An integrated approach to real world learning With the implementation of the new California Common Core


State Standards, we must engage students in real world problem solving, thus creating meaning to their learning. Allowing students to grapple with real world problems brings relevance to their aca- demic studies and connections to future careers. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are essential for our


students to succeed in the 21st century workplace. Bridging the dis- connect between the classroom and the real world brings classroom learning alive. When students integrate their learning in history, science, mathematics, English language arts, the arts and career technical education to tackle real problems, aren’t they learning how to function in the “real world,” after all? n


Leslie Rodden is director, Higher Education and Workforce Development,


Alliance for Education, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. She is also a member of ACSA’s Career Technical Education Committee. Matt Saldaña is principal of both Long Beach School for Adults and


Beach High School, Long Beach USD, and serves as the ACSA Region 14 Career Technical Education Committee Chair.


September/October 2012 13


were tested. Also critical to the success of the project was the bal- ance of the vehicle underwater when attempting to achieve the as- signed tasks. As balance and neutral buoyancy were achieved, the students could then begin to work, with both accuracy and time efficiency being critical to the success of the challenge. Volunteer judges verified the completion of tasks and assigned points, based on evidence of completion of tasks. An engineering


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