Use of OpenROV for middle school?



I'm looking for some guidance on how complicated the build and operation is on OpenROV. From what I've seen/read it is somewhat more than a VEX robot (given the glue, linux, etc).

I've been asked by a local charter school to help with a grant to get several of the OpenROV kits, build them with the middle school class (6th grade) and then operate them in local fish pond/off beaches (Maui, Hawaii). Later years the kids could use the completed bots for more indepth surveys as well as platforms for enhancements.

Is this too big a stretch for 6th grade or perhaps doable?

Much thanks

Jerry Isdale


Hey Jerry,

I'm a high school student who has competed for two years in VEX competition and am now building an OpenROV (from scratch, but I'm confident my experience will apply to the kit). I'll give you my perspective from having done both.

Building isn't that much more labor intensive than VEX because the epoxy is much easier to deal with than all the tiny vex screws. That being said, it will require some extra care to make sure nothing goes wrong, as here any failure could wreck $150 of electronics. This might, however, be a good way to have the kids figure out how to test the electronics and battery tubes before they put the electronics in.

Programming could be another story. If you are just using the standard design, you don't really need to worry about anything more than loading the images to the SD card. I don't know which language you use for the VEX programming, but arduino code at least isn't too big of a step up from the RobotC or the more advanced versions of easyC.

I guess what it really comes down to is that everything is certainly doable as long as adults are prepared to jump in when necessary. I think this is a great way to get kids into the more real-world side of robotics (which is basically how I pitched the project to my computer science teacher). Additionally, much of the initial difficulty is building it; once you have one running, programming or adding various enhancements (depending on their complexity) is fairly easy.


Thanks Philip/Nathanael

I'm quite seasoned with Arduino and am teaching classes in its use to 7-12 grade this summer at the local college-for-kids program (U.Hawaii Maui College). Although I dont expect much extra programming in near term. There is the probability of adding some sensors for data collection, but I expect more hardware issues than software.

I think an initial step to include will be getting/building at least one OpenROV early, so I can be more than a day ahead of the class.


Hey Jerry,
Especially with the newer/updated kits, I think this is doable. But, like Philip said, the key is going to be the adults who are there to encourage. We're working on some curriculum and resources to help with this process. I'd love to get you involved with the development of that if you're interested.



Aloha David

I'd love to have you/eric involved! Perhaps we can find a way for you to have a working trip to Maui to help out at some point. I am looking forward to the curriculum etc...

Related question...

In preparing for this - what items aside from the kits should we budget for? I have the list of extra (not-in-kit) stuff like the acrylic glue and laptop. How about Tote boxes that are large enough for 'bot plus tether + other stuff for field work? What size have you worked with?


Greetings Jerry,
I am a middle school science teacher in Minnesota. I received a grant from our school foundation to purchase a kit early last year. I have been trying to get things together to put the ROV into the hands of students which has had some difficulties as it would need to happen outside of the school day. Our local foundation recently supplied me with more grant funds to purchase a hard case and a dedicated laptop. This really helped. I also was able to purchase the micro SD card and a back up hard drive. I look forward to your advice in having the ROV in the hands of students and how you organized your outings. Any advice would be great. I am hoping to have an excursion on ice within a couple months. I am looking for any input and value anything you or anyone else tied to this string can give. This is a real learning experience for me as I do not know any programming nor do I typically blog. Thank you.