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ROV scientist

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) can be important expedition equipment because they can help scientists explore and collect samples from deep sea locations. A ROV scientist directs the ROV from the surface vessel. The team ‘remote controls’ the ROV and the equipment on board, including sampling tools, using a joystick and computer. The ROV provides the operator with a video feed to a screen in the operations room, so that scientists can see what is happening in the deep sea.

Ages 6+

20-40 minutes

For this activity you will need to demonstrate your ability to collect samples from the seafloor. The ROV is one of the ways that scientists can observe the deep ocean as well as collect samples for further analysis on the surface. You will need to show that you can successfully collect a range of deep sea samples using the activity below.

Set up (by adult)

  1. Select six objects from the list on the 'What you'll need' page or your imagination and place them on a tray.
  2. Select an additional six objects and place them on another tray and cover these with a tea towel.
  3. These are your deep sea sample sites.
  4. Place a third tray to the side of these with a range of six utensils next to it.

Practice sample site

  1. As an ROV scientist you need to collect samples from the deep sea and put them safely in your collection box.
  2. Have a look at the samples you need to collect and choose three of the utensils to use.
  3. You now have three minutes to transfer the deep sea samples to the collection box.
  4. You get one point for each sample you safely move.
  5. How many points did you get? You will need to get a total of five points on the second sample site to win.
  6. Do you need a little more practice?

Challenge sample site

  1. Now for the real thing. Remember, you will have three minutes to earn five points.
  2. Reflect on how useful your utensils were and whether you would like to make any changes.
  3. Now the challenge tray will be uncovered and you have three minutes to move your samples to your collection box.
  4. How did you get on?
  5. Too easy? Try some of the challenge ideas below.

More ideas

Pitch black deep sea
The deep ocean is pitch black, only lit by the lights of the ROV. Try doing this activity in the dark, using a head torch to see what’s going on.

Remote scientist
ROV scientists are based on the surface ship and use a video feed to direct the ROV deep in the ocean. Replicate this by attempting the challenge in pairs. The person moving the objects is blindfolded, with an un-blindfolded helper directing their actions.

Safety guidance

  • Be aware of any food allergies when selecting the objects.
  • Do not select any utensils that are sharp, eg knives or skewers.
  • Brief children to be careful not to move any utensils towards their face.
  • Clear up any spills immediately.

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