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Teaching science and engineering concepts with submarines

NSF Award:

Beyond the 2010 Initiative: Partnerships for Competitiveness  (South Dakota State University)

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Submarines can make an ideal learning tool to teach engineering concepts. That's what high-school students discovered during a month-long summer camp sponsored by the South Dakota Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduates Program (SD GEAR UP) at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) in Rapid City, S.D. The summer camp used submarines as a platform to teach science engineering concepts to students.

Students explored buoyancy, control, pressure, structural strength, environmental considerations and product development.  Hands-on demonstrations were used to better connect students to the scientific concepts behind the engineering process.

The summer camp concluded with a design challenge in which teams built a remotely operated submersible vehicle. The teams then competed against each other to test their designs. Tests included touching the bottom of a pool with their submarine and resurfacing, and moving across the pool holding a flag above water and again with the flag below water.

This outreach activity, funded through the South Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), helps to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) participation of high-school students, particularly those in underrepresented groups.

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  • students race their submarines during a 'gear up' summer camp
Students compete using submarines during a GEAR UP summer camp.
Brandon Hinz, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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