Citizen Science

It’s a lot of fun to build a SeaPerch and compete in a closed environment like a pool but did you know there are many applications for SeaPerch outside of the pool? From underwater exploration to data collection and clean-up, SeaPerches can be modified to research and respond to real-world questions and challenges facing all of our communities.

Countless real-world applications exist for SeaPerches and other underwater ROVs. For the second year, we are posing a few broad challenge topics and invite teams to share their ideas, research, and prototypes. These Citizen Science projects are an opportunity to engage our incredible SeaPerch community around missions and research endeavors that utilize their ROVs in the real world. We invite you to engage in research to develop solutions to the scenarios. Do you have another idea or topic not listed below that you'd like to pursue? We'd love to hear about it! 

There is no one “right” solution and the parameters are intentionally broad – use your imagination and evolving engineering prowess to come up with your own unique approach. 

SP in the Wild

2020 SeaPerch Challenge Projects

The four projects described below (or others that you may brainstorm) will be included as optional components for our 2020 International SeaPerch Challenge. Although the specific tasks may look familiar to this year’s mission course, take inspiration from your local community and address a specific real-world challenge related to the topic. 

Teams who qualify to participate in the 2020 SeaPerch Challenge will have the opportunity to share their research and prototypes at the event. If you can't join us in May at the University of Maryland, we'll be providing opportunities for virtual sharing of research concepts as well. Stay tuned for more updates over the coming months!

1. Floating Debris Clean-up Project:

Some of the world's largest trash deposits, composed of metal, glass, paper, cloth, rubber, wood, and lost, and abandoned or discarded fishing nets, exist in our oceans and waterways.  However, plastics such as water and soda bottles and jugs, plastic bags, bottle caps, and foam food containers account for most of this garbage. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program has estimated that it would take 67 ships one year to clean up less than one percent of the North Pacific Ocean. This global issue has economic and ecologic impacts, but it is completely preventable! 

Project Goal: Research sources and types of floating trash in a local waterway. Develop and test a prototype of a device or other remotely controllable addition that will allow your SeaPerch to pick up the garbage. Your device should account for and overcome extreme marine conditions while not posing risk to ocean life and protected species and not being a hazard to navigation. 

2. Sunken Debris Clean-Up Project

Floating garbage isn’t the only problem. The floor of the oceans and local waterways may also include underwater trash piles. Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70 percent of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean, learn more at:

Project Goal: Research sources and types of sunken marine debris in your local area as well as methods that can be used to detect and remove it. Build and test a prototype of a device or other remotely controllable addition for ROV that is capable of identifying and/or retrieving sunken garbage. Be sure that your device accounts for and overcomes your local marine conditions while not posing risk to marine life or protected species and that it isn't a hazard to navigation.

3. Sample & Data Collection

There’s an app for that! Make a difference using your SeaPerch ROV, as well as any needed modifications, by utilizing a litter tracking app. There are numerous apps that can be used for this purpose, enabling community members to log the location, type, and quantity of marine debris.  The information gathered is useful in generating scientific findings and informing policy to combat the problem. For this project, share where you find marine debris as well as what type of trash you find. 

Project Goal: Identify and utilize an app to document where you find marine debris, document the type of trash you find, and/or share water quality data you gather in your local area. Analyze data gathered by others in your area and look for trends. Develop a plan for how your findings can be used to increase awareness or to identify solvable solutions to the problem and tell us all about it.

4. An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure...

Where does it come from? Since the issue of marine debris is totally preventable, research how garbage is ending up in your local waterways to begin with. Whether it’s through changing your personal consumption of single-use plastics, increasing community awareness, developing a media campaign, or participating in a clean-up of a local waterway, there’s so many ways to alleviate the problem.

Project Goal: Research and develop a plan for how you can make a difference to stop the problem of marine debris before it begins and keep our oceans and waterways healthy.


2019 SeaPerch Challenge Projects

Each of the following projects connects to the 2019 SeaPerch Challenge Mission Course. 

1. Underwater Clean-up Project:

Some of the world's largest trash deposits exist in our oceans and waterways. This waste can find its way into underwater caves and be difficult to remove. For this project, imagine that you are exploring a cave deep underwater and discover trash that cannot simply be lifted with a stock SeaPerch. 

Project Goal: Develop a robotic gripper or other remotely controllable addition that will allow your SeaPerch to pick up underwater trash.

2. Environmental Sensing Project:

Data collected from the water around us can provide us with an important understanding of current environmental factors and also provide insight for changes in the environment. For this project, imagine that you are trying to collect data related to an underwater cave environment that is inaccessible by a human diver. For the purposes of this project, the specific data you are interested in collecting is up to you.

Project Goal: Develop a water collection device (for future analysis) or sensor pack (for real-time data collection) that can be added to your SeaPerch.

3. Amphibious SeaPerch Project:

On the edges of bodies of water, there are coastal environments that can be difficult to navigate or explore by water or land. In cave environments, like the one described for the 2019 SeaPerch Mission Challenge, there are portions of the cave that vary in water depth and that turn to dry ground. For this project, imagine that you are trying to navigate this environment and want to explore an area of the cave that varies in depth from a few feet to only a few inches of water. 

Project Goal: Develop a modification that will allow your SeaPerch to navigate shallow water and exit, or partially exit the water.

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