The city of Madison, Wisconsin, is home to many lakes, the largest being Lake Mendota. On any given day, it’s possible that the lake may be greeting researchers, who, using tools such as a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), aim to study the bottom of the lake.
Even school children get to take part of this practice, studying things such as water-quality analysis and other topics related to underwater exploration.
In an article for Marine Technology News, titled, Revving Up a New ROV, writer Moira Harrington follows the story of a middle school class who got to do just that. Eight students accompanied teachers Lynn Kurth and Sue Nelson to the lake, after having been selected from application essays they submitted. Students wrote statements such as, “I love science and exploring new things, and I love history so I want to learn more about what’s on the bottom of Lake Mendota.”
Those who were chosen then had the opportunity to participate in hands-on science as well as improve their language skills as they documented the experience. The data collected by the ROV at lake Mendota will be shared by the students and used for future projects.
After being taken out on boats, freshwater ecologist and boat captain, Jake Walsh, told the students, “Lake Mendota is one of the most-studied lakes in the world. You get to be part of this long history of studying to understand this lake.”
While not all children will be selected for these types of STEM experiences, Wisconsin teachers can recreate the experience in their classrooms, thanks in part to a program Kurth helped design. The Wisconsin Water Library offers a ROV and curriculum covering maritime history, engineering, and underwater exploration. Teachers can borrow the program from the library and use it by setting up small kiddie pools in their classrooms.
This is a great way to bring hands-on learning to the kids who can’t make it out for special field trips. While this program is currently only at the Wisconsin Water Library, it is a concept that could be expanded to classrooms across the country if the tools and funding are available.
In addition to the biology lessons in store, underwater exploration can also inspire children with an interest in history, due to shipwrecks and other artifacts that can be found at the bottom of large bodies of water.
In the article, maritime archeologist Tori Kiefer is quoted on this topic, stating, “Shipwrecks are a Snapchat into our history. We can learn a lot about history, farming and immigrants through shipwrecks. A lot of our cities are the way they are because of shipping. Shipwrecks are a great way to understand people.”
Underwater exploration has amazing and wide-reaching potential for getting kids excited about aspects of STEAM and history. And this summer, Mind Foundry is offering the Deep Sea Explorer’s course. Similar to the program developed for students at Lake Mendota, campers will learn all about underwater exploration and get to participate in the building of ROVs that they will get to then test. This kind of STEAM education that provides tactile experiences for the 21st century student, is a great way to get students involved and interested in building, exploration, and creation.
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Are you looking for something amazing for your child to do this summer in Minneapolis that will be fun and excite their creativity? Mind Foundry is providing Summer Camp sessions at sites throughout Minneapolis. Our engaging camps this summer include Robotix, Wings Academy, Intelligent Cities, Deep Sea Explorers, and Computing Cafe. To read more details, please check out our Summer course catalog.
Camps run Monday — Friday 9am — 3pm at a cost of $250 per week (scholarships available for scholars registered by Thursday, July 14th). Before and after care available. Discounts available for siblings as well as for multiple weeks.
Mind Foundry is committed to providing accessible, high-quality 21st century learning to all. Limited scholarships and sliding scale pricing available to those that qualify. Register your child, using this link, and get started with Mind Foundry summer camps, today!