The Office of Naval Research (ONR) funded the 2012 National SeaPerch Challenge in Manassas Park, Virginia, on April 11-13.
The national competition brought together students from all over the country, as they competed with underwater robots. The top middle and high school teams competed with underwater robots that they built as part of a curriculum that aims to boost their skills and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The competition challenges at the National SeaPerch Challenge were designed to reflect operations relevant to the U.S. Navy. This year’s competition had 70 teams that competed in two events: an obstacle course and a salvage operation.
The challenges were held in an indoor pool in a community center. The obstacle course required teams to navigate through 24-inch rings that may be oriented in any direction, surface, re-submerge, and return through the course. The salvage operation, on the other hand, required the team to float five 5-gallon buckets inverted on the pool’s bottom to the surface, and bring them poolside.
The winning teams were awarded by Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, on April 12.
Kelly Cooper, ONR Sea Platforms and Weapons division program officer, shared: “SeaPerch provides an affordable entry point for underwater robotics, and, from there, directional arrows to other science and engineering competitions and internships-it’s an easy-to-follow ‘yellow brick road’ approach… The goal is to expand student awareness and encourage them to pursue STEM education and careers.”
Cooper shared further: “SeaPerch really resonates with students who do better with hands-on learning… It also brings inner-city and magnet schools together to compete, while showing the inner-city students that their ROVs work just as well and that STEM careers are accessible and a real option for them.”