News from the STEM Office
Posted on: April 10, 2014 08:00 EDT by Sarah Durkin
The Maryland Regional SeaPerch Challenge was held at the Naval Academy on Saturday, April 5, 2014. The event was hosted by USNA and the Carderock Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center, with sponsorship from National Defense Education Program (NDEP) and Office of Naval Research (ONR).
SeaPerch is a program sponsored by ONR and Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and is used as part of after-school programs aimed at enhancing interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects. Students participating in the SeaPerch program learn to build underwater remotely operated vehicles from a kit comprised of low-cost and easily accessible parts. The program works to encourage students, through exposure to basic engineering and science themes, to explore careers in STEM fields.
135 teams from 35 middle and high schools in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC traveled to the Naval Academy to compete in the Maryland Regional SeaPerch Challenge. With up to five students per team, there were 440 students, 39 teachers, and numerous parents and supporters in attendance. The event was supported by 25 faculty, staff and volunteers along with 20 midshipmen.
Each team was evaluated in three categories: Launch, Design & Teamwork, and Creativity & Engineering. At the launch, teams tested their SeaPerch in the tow tank in a variety of missions including a speed trial, maneuvering through an obstacle course, and picking up floating rings. In the second category, midshipmen asked team members a series of questions to determine their level of effort and understanding of design, concepts and teamwork. In the Creativity & Engineering category, midshipmen judged each SeaPerch on aesthetics, robustness and creativity of modifications to accomplish the missions.
At the end of the day, the ten top-scoring teams competed in the final competition. In this trial, known as "The Heist", a mesh vault wall with a latched door was set up across the lane in the tank. On the other side of the wall, there was a series of boxes of various weights with handles, waiting to be retrieved. Competitors had to maneuver their SeaPerch to lift the latch and push open the door to the vault, retrieve one box at a time, bring it back through the door of the vault and to the surface at the starting line. A challenging task, one team managed to retrieve four boxes.
The top ten teams were invited to compete at the National SeaPerch Challenge in May at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.