Remotely operated vehicle

STEM Learning Module:

Introduction to Ocean Exploration - Stations of Learning

Use this lesson to introduce students to how & why we explore the world’s oceans. Dr. Robert Ballard’s TED Talk establishes a connection encouraging all viewers to cultivate a collective desire to explore the ocean and to stress the importance of continued exploration. 

Design Challenge:


Learners will discuss, research, design, build, and showcase a model ocean exploration device from LEGO bricks or other found materials. Work in teams to research the variety of ocean exploration devices including the tools on E/V Nautilus but don't forget the Build-A-Bot Inspiration Slidedeck for more ideas!  Brainstorm what type of tool learners want to make, what their device will do, and why there is a need for this tool. 

Teaching Animation or Graphic:

ROV Explainer Graphic Poster

Learn about the features of Remotely Operated Vehicles which help the Corps of Exploration understand our ocean world. 

Learn more about the ROVs and different technologies used in the Nautilus Exploration Program here

STEM Learning Module:

Hercules Illuminating The Dark

Five activity stations and demonstrations guide students through different examples of light refraction and ask follow-up questions to engage their analysis skills. 

Sunlight rarely travels more than 200 meters (656 feet) deep into the ocean. Vast unexplored regions of the ocean are perpetually dark. Bringing light deep into the ocean introduces challenges, but also the chance to make many discoveries.  Explore the phenomena of colored light, phased absorption of different wavelengths, and other impacts on light underwater with the following five activities.

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Tools Of The Trade

Introduce your students to ships of exploration and some of the technology at sea using the 5E method (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate). Using videos and various websites, students will look at the differences between Remotely Operated Vehicles and Autonomously Operated Vehicles. Extending this lesson, use every day items like scissors, toothpicks, and magnets, to design and build a model crane and pulley system like the one E/V Nautilus uses to launch ROV Hercules and ROV Argus for expeditions. 

STEM Learning Module:

Pressure & Density Stations

Students will learn about two key physical properties of oceans: pressure and density, by rotating through stations. Stations include floating/sinking density challenges, DIY lava lamps, data interpretation, Cartesian divers, and more. After rotations, students work with teammates to summarize their learning and make connections from water properties to ocean exploration and ROV technology.

STEM Learning Module:

Save Yourself - Sacrificial Anodes

Students will investigate how rates of chemical reaction rates - galvanic corrosion - vary among different metal types with and without the addition of sacrificial metal. This is a redox reaction example suited well for upper-level students. Students will learn how anodes protect E/V Nautilus and the ROVs Hercules and Argus from corrosion.

STEM Learning Module:

A Sinking Feeling

Use the “Think, Try, Make, Redesign” engineering model to build a neutrally buoyant vehicle from everyday materials like ketchup packets, washers, spare change, and rubber bands. In this perseverance-building challenge, students explore material properties to explore what makes something float, sink, or find neutral buoyancy. Students will learn how buoyancy impacts Exploration Vessel Nautilus and our ROVs as platforms for exploration.

STEM Learning Module:

Navigation Simulation

Learn about navigation in the deep sea through this kinesthetic simulation. Blindfolded student partners take on the role of “robots” trying to make it from one point to another using only acoustic signaling and collect data for each round and determine whether changes in the frequency of an acoustic signal help in finding one’s way. Students will understand how GPS works, why we use different methods of navigation underwater, and technology and careers associated with deep-sea navigation.