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The Titanic: Submersibles & ROVs

Found In: Science, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

The Titanic wreck is explored by manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROV) because the pressure at 12,415 feet is too great for unprotected diving. (Water temperature and gas saturation also present obstacles.) At sea level, air exerts 14.7 pounds pressure per square inch. For every additional 33 feet of salt water, another atmosphere, or 14.7 pounds per square inch, is exerted. At Titanic’s depth, a diver would be subjected to approximately 377 atmospheres. The current record for free diving (no scuba and no fins) is 380 feet. New Zealander William Trubridge held his breath for 4:09.

Students can learn about submersibles and ROVs and take a virtual dive on the Titanic on the Discovery Channel’s website. Video footage from the ROV ROBIN provides a glimpse of the Titanic on the ocean floor.

Build & Pilot Your Own ROV

Younger students can try piloting an ROV in shallower water using Dragonfly TV’s ROV. To study the effects of global warming on reef environments, students investigate marine life on a tropical reef. Students can choose three levels of difficulty.

Older students can build and pilot an ROV to the ocean floor and take photos of a wreck site at Immersion Learning – ROV Design. ROV construction requires balancing the load and adjusting buoyancy.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website offers Build Your Own Remotely Operated Vehicle. The plans include a list of needed supplies and 21-step instructions. You can download a PDF of the complete instructions. The homepage links to a book on building ROVs and an annual contest open to student teams from upper elementary, middle schools, high schools, home schools, community colleges, universities, and community organizations.

Professional Development

Grade 6-12 Teacher teams of 2 or 3 can apply for the Shedd Aquarium’s summer program: Underwater Robotics held July 23-27. Teams build ROVs, conduct field research with it, and observe how science, technology, engineering and math can inspire inquiry. Teams also receive materials and curriculum to share their middle or high school classes.



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