Principal mechanical engineer, Brenton Binder, has been working with teacher Chris Boden and students from St Andrew’s School to build mini-submersibles, also known as Remote Operated Vehicles or ROVs.
For the past 10 years, Brenton has worked on the design and build of the Collins Class submarines and found out about the STEM Professionals in Schools program through his employer, the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC).
“I just love being involved in engineering in the defence industry with submarines and warships, and being able to pass that onto the kids to give them that little bit of excitement, sense of achievement and problem solving skills,” said Brenton.
Over a 10-week period, the Year 6 students from Walkerville in South Australia have learnt to build working ROVs, including engineering, construction, soldering and problem-solving skills.
Brenton explains “In the real world, submersibles do real-life jobs for industry in underwater environments. Whether it’s laying pipes or cables, or more specifically, for a naval environment.”
Chris adds “Places that are too dangerous, or too deep, for people to go, they can send an ROV instead.”
The students worked in small teams to build their ROV and then ‘road’ test in a super-sized fish tank. Demonstrating their newly found prowess to other students at the school, as well as parents and friends, each team created a trade booth for their ROV, complete with stand, promotional material and sales pitch!
“The capability the kids have been able to bring, and what they have been able to do, has been amazing! From putting bits together and soldering, to problem solving when the final product wasn’t quite working to see what was needed to fix it,” said Brenton.
Chris tell us, “Some children will learn by reading about it, some children will learn by watching somebody, but all children will learn by doing. That’s what STEM Professionals in Schools allows, they’re getting in there, getting their hands mucky and learning by doing.”
“We need more scientists and engineers to find innovative solutions for the problems of the future, so getting the children excited about STEM is vitally important.”