NEW YORK (NNS) -- Parents and students filled the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center, Flushing, New York, with energy and excitement during this year's SeaPerch New York City competition on March 28.
Cheers were especially loud for John Ericsson Middle School 126 student Curtis Bryant, as he carefully maneuvered his team's underwater remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) through a series of challenging obstacles.
"I got a lot of points and I was cheered on by my teammates. It was fun to put the ROV together and then to do well today," said Bryant of Brooklyn, New York.
Bryant's "Perching Eagles" team, winners of the regional competition, will now face off against other regional champions from across the United States in the National SeaPerch Competition at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, on May 30.
The regional SeaPerch Challenge competition was intense as teams maneuvered their ROVs through the Olympic-sized pool with more than 300 spectators watching from the viewing stands above.
For weeks and months leading up to the competition, each team built their underwater ROVs following a curriculum of basic engineering and science concepts. Once completed, the students made small adjustments to their ROV's capabilities including buoyancy and weight. During the competition phase, the teams put their creations to the test against other student engineers.
"I brought SeaPerch to my robotics group and they were excited to be a part of a competition," said Linda Witte, a math teacher at Brooklyn's David A. Boody Junior High School. "In just about three weeks time, they learned how to wire, attach motors, make a remote control, how to waterproof things, and how to place holes in the ROV to make it submerge. It's been a great learning experience for them."
The competition phase of the SeaPerch Challenge included a series of challenges designed to assess the student's work. The first test, was an obstacle course where ROVs maneuvered through a series of underwater hoops. Precision was tested during the finesse challenge where students had to perform a series of technical exercises, including guiding a pipe attachment through different sized holes, picking up objects, and sliding a sleeve across rungs of a ladder made of PVC pipe. Judges also scored the teams' oral presentation that showcased their mastery of the science and engineering principles used to create their ROVs.
The U.S. Navy sponsors the SeaPerch program that gives middle and high school students an affordable, hands-on challenge focused around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Christian Balentin of Middletown High School said while the competition was fun, it was also challenging. "You can't anticipate the water moving so much, but once it does, the reflection is horrible and makes it hard to see the ROV below the surface."
"My kids did very well in all three areas," said Winston Campbell, a teacher from P.S. 129 John H. Finley. "The hands-on aspect of this program helps bring the theory aspect to life for the students. Now they have a better scope of what it takes to achieve a particular goal, especially in a team environment where not everything will turn out perfect, but you just have to adjust and go on."
"We need you, all of your young minds, to stay focused on STEM," said Rear Adm. Kelvin Dixon, deputy commander, Navy Surface Force Atlantic, who was the event's keynote speaker. "As an engineer myself, I'm really proud to see what you have all done here today."
Logistics Specialist 1st Class Diego Santiago, a local Navy reservist, said that volunteering at Saturday's event was important to him because he wanted to ensure a bright future for our nation. "Our country is lagging behind in fields related to science and math, so we need to focus this generation of young people toward STEM areas to propel us forward. It takes us, it takes everybody, to help out. I'm just doing my part."
The 2015 New York City Seaperch Challenge regional winners are:
- New York Harbor High School, New York
- John Ericsson Middle School 126, Brooklyn
The SeaPerch program incorporates Navy Community Outreach while inspiring teachers, engaging students through hands-on learning and Sailor mentorship, as well as educating students and encouraging them to seek employable STEM careers in the future.
Visit http://www.seaperch.org for more details on the program and how your school can get involved. For information on SeaPerch New York City, visit http://seaperch.nyc.
To check out the Navy's STEM website, visit http://www.navy.com/stem, and like the U.S. Navy STEM Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UsNavyStem.
For more news from Navy Office of Information, East, visit www.navy.mil/local/navinfoeast/.