explore the water

Building & Designing Underwater Robots in our Robotics Level 2 Class

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How we started

At Berkner STEM Academy, there has been a Robotics Strand for many years. The students showed interest in taking a senior level class and truly putting their learning to the test. To take the many small projects and turn them up a notch. Our Seniors would be building underwater robots in class.

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These students have taken a Principles of Engineering class, Engineering Design & Presentation, as well as Robotics 1. Over these three years, the students worked on AutoCAD, Inventor, Programming and building as a Team.

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The first year we tried to build an underwater robot we struggled to keep the project moving forward. With very little experience in this area and no real plan, we continued to encounter large failure that set us back constantly.

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After the first year, we learned what we needed to do but we need to have a full plan. Something that would help the students shine. Using this new plan, we could have more confidence to operate in a safer environment to try small risks.


Biggest Challenge

It is important that I showed the students what it looked like to learn through trial and error. With our specific kit of parts, we needed to build a controller for the robot. The instructions we were following had some parts that were missing in this area. We spent a couple of class days learning how each switch worked and scheming a plan.

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Biggest Takeaway

These students had never tried something this big and this daunting before. With this large of a project, they learned so much during each phase. They learned the highs and lows of project management and attention to detail. No matter where they go in life, these skills will make them successful.


Student testimonies

“I knew that I could design in 3D, but it was so different and cool when I was holding what I made.“

“I didn’t think it would float. I had very little confidence in it. We took a few creative risks and I’m pumped that it worked out.”

“When I heard that we had to design and create the controller I took the challenge personally. I wanted to design it and am so happy that we did.”

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The website and manual were a huge help. They have videos, links and shopping lists that made the transition from our first plan to the second so much easier. Having the hard copies of the manuals were great for the kids as they worked with sticky or heavy items. Fragile computers or tablets around these kids in moments like these always frightens me a bit.


We were fortunate to have a person purchase and bundle the parts for u. Having at least 1 extra kit for the teacher or as back up was very helpful. Tools can be shared and are not always needed to be purchased as a “1 per kit” item.

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With the inexpensive nature of the frame of this robot, the options for customization are endless. Introducing programmable units like Arduino or RaspberryPi also bring more possibilities. Let the students explore.


A great way to have students involved would be to do a club surrounding the idea of competition. Competitive robotics brings a unique element to the project management, documentation and overall experience. Be sure to read the rules and event details.

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I did this project with my Seniors and it was a smaller class size of 16 students. If you decide to do this with younger students, then follow more of the manual and feed into their strengths and skills.


TEKS we covered during this project for the Robotics 2 Class