Have students write a reflection on the process they used to solve the original problem presented to them to design a submersible vehicle and plan a dive to collect information about deep-sea life. Distribute the Engineering Process Reflection Rubric to each student and review the criteria you will use to assess their written reflections. Tell students to refer to their notes from the Engineering Process handout, their data collection, and the reports they wrote at each stage of the process as they write their reflection. Explain that the reflection should include a summary of the problem they had to solve, an overview of their original design, a summary of how they tested an element of their design, an explanation of how pressure affected their design in deeper water, an evaluation of how well their design worked, including what they would change to make it work better, and an evaluation of how well the overall process worked for them.
Subjects & Disciplines
- Arts and Music
- Earth Science
- create a physical submersible model and assess its buoyancy at different depth and pressures
- analyze essential components of a testable submersible model
- define and analyze a problem
- identify constraints and considerations for solving a problem
- research parameters related to a problem
- design a solution to a problem using what they know about deep ocean conditions, including pressure
- test, evaluate, and improve models designed to remain slightly positively buoyant in 1 to 3 meters (3 to 10 feet) of water
- experience how engineers use the engineering process to test, evaluate, and improve a model
- accurately explain observations based on an understanding of pressure
- compare pressure at different depths in the ocean
- create a model to explain how and why pressure increases as depth increases in the ocean
- Cooperative learning
- Hands-on learning
Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices
What You’ll Need
The resources are also available at the top of the page.
- Internet Access: Required
- Internet access: Required
- Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, 1 computer per small group, Projector, Speakers
- Plug-Ins: Flash
- Outdoor natural environment
- Outdoor recreation space
If the demonstrations will be done inside, set up the stations with a tray on top of a towel to prevent spills.
The testing portion of this activity is best done outside. If the testing in water is done in the classroom, set up the space so each group has a large container of water surrounded by towels to soak up any drips and spills.
You will need to build a water column (described in the How to Build a Water Column handout) before beginning the activity. Allow three to four days to build the column and let it dry before use. The testing phase of the activity should be completed outside. The water column will need to be placed so that the top of it, which will be 3 meters (10 feet) above the ground, is easily accessible. An outside stairwell, playground equipment, or a ladder could be used to access the top of the column. Keep safety in mind when placing and using the water column and be sure it is secure and that the method you use for students to access the top of it is safe. Your testing location should also include a safe place to drain the water from the column at the conclusion of the activity. See Modifications for other ways to test the prototypes if you do not have time to build the water column described.
- Large-group instruction
Familiarize yourself with the tips and the problem constraints listed on the Problem Scenario: Design a Submersible to help you guide students during the research phase.
This activity is best done in two sessions. Complete steps 1 through 6 in the first session, and complete the rest of the steps in the second session.
- A basic understanding of pressure
- Students should have an understanding of density and buoyancy.
- Students should have a basic understanding of pressure, particularly as it pertains to water.
- A basic understanding of mass
- A basic understanding of force
Recommended Prior Lessons
zone of the open ocean, starting at 3,962 meters (13,000 feet) below sea level.
increase of speed or velocity.
the power to float or rise in a fluid.
a matter weighed or taken into account when formulating an opinion or plan.
limitation or obstacle.
ongoing expedition to study the deepest point in the ocean, with a record-breaking descent to the Challenger Deep in March 2012.
person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).
power or energy that activates movement.
physical force by which objects attract, or pull toward, each other.
deepest zone of the open ocean, starting at around 6,000 meters (20,000 feet).
opening on the seafloor that emits hot, mineral-rich solutions.
measure of the amount of matter in a physical object.
image or impression of an object used to represent the object or system.
force pressed on an object by another object or condition, such as gravity.
early version or model.
small submarine used for research and exploration.
material consisting of tiny hollow "microballoons" made from material such as glass or carbon.