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What is SeaPerch?

SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting. Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. The SeaPerch Program provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science, and mathematics (STEM) while building an underwater ROV as part of a science and engineering technology curriculum. Throughout the project, students will learn engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, and technical applications.

Building a SeaPerch ROV teaches basic skills in ship and submarine design and encourages students to explore naval architecture and marine and ocean engineering principles. It also teaches basic science and engineering concepts and tool safety and technical procedures. Students learn important engineering and design skills and are exposed to all the exciting careers that are possible in naval architecture and naval, ocean, and marine engineering. 

Have you ever wondered where the name “SeaPerch” came from?  We asked the inventor of the original SeaPerch, Mr. Harry Bohm, and he shared the story with us.  Mr. Bohm explains that the name SeaPerch came from the USS Perch, a highly decorated World War II U.S. submarine.

USS Perch was one of a new breed of American submarines and was the first to incorporate an early form of air conditioning. She was launched May 9, 1936 by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT and was scuttled by her crew in the Java Sea on March 3, 1942 after being severely damaged during a Japanese depth charge attack two days earlier. The crew was captured and sent to a Japanese prisoner of war camp; all but six of the 54 men and five officers onboard returned home after the war.

Her wreckage was discovered in November 2006 by an international team of divers off the coast of Java and was the object of archeological diver exploration.

SeaPerch Is...

Students learn best by doing, and during the process of building SeaPerch, they follow steps to completely assemble the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), test it, and then participate in launching their vehicles.

After the SeaPerch robot is constructed, students are encouraged to test their vehicles, deploy them on missions, and compete in a culminating event, the SeaPerch Challenge. Events at the Challenge can include:

Winners of local or regional Challenges can compete in the National SeaPerch Challenge, held each Spring.

Teacher/Mentor Training Program

Online video training is available with full instructions on how to build the SeaPerch. The videos are in the beginner and advanced format, and they are supported at various times with live webcasts for troubleshooting.

On-site training is offered in several locations at set times throughout the year, currently Bethesda, MD, Annapolis, MD, and Newport, RI. If the trainee has travel funds available for hotel, transportation and travel expenses, the training on-site is at no charge. Meals during the training are included. If a group wishes to have a SeaPerch trainer travel to conduct training, this arrangement is possible if the schedule can be flexible. This event is a 1.5 day event.

Responsibilities of the local group wishing to host a training event include:

Continuing education and/or professional development credits may be offered, as educators are often required to attend workshops throughout the year.


The SeaPerch curriculum has been designed to meet many of the national learning standards identified by the government, as well as the new Common Core standards. With one project, schools are able to teach many of the concepts required for their grade level using a fun, hands-on activity for students. Some of the concepts the students learn during the build include:

Program Benefits

Meets National Learning Outcomes: The SeaPerch Program meets many of the national learning outcomes for science.

Supports Diversity: The program focuses on presenting the possibilities of technical careers to minorities, girls, and underrepresented populations.

Low Cost Per Student: The price per kit is low. Seed funding or subsidies may be available to help your program get started - the grants are 10 kits and one tool kit maximum per program, and are based on the completion of a grant request and meeting of the criteria. Also, the grants are based on the availability of funding.

Web Resources & Community: The SeaPerch website provides resources, tools, information, and a community.

Why SeaPerch?

The U.S. Needs Trained Engineers

The world is changing. Innovations transform our nation, creating whole new industries and occupations. Every job of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Science and technology careers exist in a culture of inspiration, discovery, and innovation. Advances in technology will have a meaningful impact on the lives of every American.

The U.S. has fallen from 3rd to 17th in the world in the number of college graduates in engineering programs. In the U.S., only 5% of science degrees are awarded in engineering, as compared with 50% in China. It is estimated that 400,000 engineers will be needed by 2014. If it is not addressed, the expected shortage of skilled workers could decrease the nation's global competitiveness and result in a lack of expertise in mission-critical areas.

STEM and the Future of the U.S. Navy

Inspiration, discovery, and innovation are the hallmarks of the Navy's Research Enterprise. Maintaining a technological edge requires a dynamic portfolio of scientific research and technology development, a culture of innovation, and the capacity to draw upon diverse ideas and approaches. Tomorrow's scientists and engineers will be at the heart of this innovation process. Without a steady stream of civilian and enlisted scientists and engineers, the Navy's ability to maintain its Science and Technology superiority will falter over time. Consequently, increasing the STEM pipeline has become a critical priority for the Navy so that we are capable of tackling the challenges of the future.

By offering a broad range of STEM education and outreach programs, the Navy seeks to address the national crisis of decreasing college enrollments and careers in science and engineering. Through programs like SeaPerch and the STEM2Stern Program, the goal is to engage and inspire young people by exposing them to exciting, hands-on, and mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, while at the same time fostering self-confidence and life skills.

The Story of SeaPerch

SeaPerch began as one project in a book entitled "How to Build an Underwater Robot," by Harry Bohm and Vickie Jensen. There were many projects in the book, and SeaPerch captured just two pages, with a parts list and instructions on how to assemble. Years later, Professor Thomas Consi at MIT developed a curriculum around the SeaPerch as a way to grow the Ocean Engineering Program at MIT. Realizing it was an interesting and compelling vehicle, MIT, Dr. Chryss Chrystostomedes, and the Sea Grant office developed a teacher training program around the SeaPerch curriculum they had developed based on Bohn's and Jensen's book, and they began introducing it to teachers both in the New England area and beyond. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) provided some financial support to MIT to develop the teacher training program, through the NNRNE program (National Naval Responsibility for Naval Engineering).

Several years later, The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) had the vision to utilize their resources to manage the program and partner with ONR to take the SeaPerch Program from what was essentially a teacher training program and develop it into a true national program. ONR agreed to provide grant funding to develop an actual program, kit, and supporting materials, and to allow for the expansion of the program once developed. SNAME's efforts began to take root, and ONR expanded the grant to allow for the rapid growth of the program.

As of the fall of 2011, the SeaPerch Program is now managed by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation (AUVSIF), and continues to expand nationally. In the past five years since the national program was conceived, over 50,000 students have participated in the SeaPerch Program.

Want to Learn More?

Watch a video about the SeaPerch Program

Title Time YouTube Flash MP4 Download (PC)
video iconSeaPerch: Teach Build Become (full version) 08:45 Watch it on YouTube (8:45) Download it (FLV, 55.1 MB) Not Available
video iconSeaPerch: Teach, Build, Become (shorter version) 04:40 Watch it on YouTube (4:40) Download it (FLV, 16.4 MB) .MP4 (24.2 MB)