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The Titanic: Submersibles & ROVs

Found In: Science, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

The Titanic wreck is explored by manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROV) because the pressure at 12,415 feet is too great for unprotected diving. (Water temperature and gas saturation also present obstacles.) At sea level, air exerts 14.7 pounds pressure per square inch. For every additional 33 feet of salt water, another atmosphere, or 14.7 pounds per square inch, is exerted. At Titanic’s depth, a diver would be subjected to approximately 377 atmospheres. The current record for free diving (no scuba and no fins) is 380 feet. New Zealander William Trubridge held his breath for 4:09.

Build & Pilot Your Own ROV

Younger students can try piloting an ROV in shallower water using Dragonfly TV’s ROV. To study the effects of global warming on reef environments, students investigate marine life on a tropical reef. Students can choose three levels of difficulty.

Older students can build and pilot an ROV to the ocean floor and take photos of a wreck site at Immersion Learning – ROV Design. ROV construction requires balancing the load and adjusting buoyancy.

The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center offers a number of projects including three different ROVs. The plans include video tutorials that demonstrate each step of construction. Membership is required to view the videos. Memberships are free. The website sponsors an annual ROV competition.

Professional Development

Shedd Aquarium offers programs that introduce teachers and students to STEM principles through the development and application of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to investigate aquatic environments. See the Underwater Robotics Program for more information.


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