In only a few weeks, SeaPerch, a national educational outreach program using underwater robotics, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), will hold its 2013 National SeaPerch Challenge. Hosted by the Indiana State Regions this annual competition will take place on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) on Saturday, May 18, 2013, at the University’s Natatorium housing the Olympic pool. There the top 100 winning teams from regional competitions held across the nation will gather to assess how their SeaPerch underwater robots will fare in competition among their peers through a series of underwater challenges and a juried poster presentation to determine the 2013 middle school and high school National Champions. This is the third year for the National SeaPerch Challenge, and the first year for Nationals to be held in Indianapolis.
SeaPerch is an innovative K-12 underwater robotics program that trains teachers and group leaders to inspire their student teams to build their own SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV’s) following a curriculum consistent with national standards supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects with a marine engineering-based theme. The program promotes hands-on learning of engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, design skills and introduces students to potential and exciting careers in naval architecture, marine, ocean and naval engineering. Now in its sixth year SeaPerch is administered by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation (AUVSIF). “With guidance from AUVSIF and with ONR’s commitment to SeaPerch, which introduces K-12 students to STEM through underwater robotics, the program has grown exponentially, reaching over 70,000 students to date,” commented Susan Nelson, Executive Director of SeaPerch. Over 6000 trained teachers and mentors are also committed to support student learning through this stimulating and fun hands-on activity by following an established academic curriculum to discover the excitement of STEM as a potential future career path. The program reaches a diverse population, so participants in the Challenge will be students across the country, from inner city Baltimore to rural Mississippi to Native American reservations in Minnesota to the islands of Hawaii, who have been introduced to STEM through SeaPerch.
Building on the success of last year, on Friday evening, May 17, the opening event will be the Welcome Party for the teams from that evening in the Natatorium with light refreshments available. This will be a great opportunity for all to meet and mingle. Team leaders should also plan for their teams to bring their SeaPerch ROV as we will be open for check-in and compliance checks in order to reduce congestion the next morning.
Competition day, Saturday, May 18, will begin at the Natatorium with the required check-in’s followed by an opening ceremony, photographers and videographers recording the events, local media in attendance, and again this year, live streaming of the day’s activities for the benefit of classmates, friends and parents back home across the country. A juried poster competition is planned for both middle and high school teams to introduce their graphic displays and deliver oral presentations about their design philosophy, construction challenges and answer questions posed by the judges. The pool’s technical competition events will consist both of an Obstacle Course and an entirely new Deep Water Transfer challenge. Specifications for these underwater events are posted on the SeaPerch website, www.seaperch.org, so teams may build their own for practice prior to the national competition. Nearly 100 judges and volunteers are expected to cover the poster and the pool competitions and help in various capacities during the day’s activities. Team Entry Rules as well as Competition Event Rules, specifications and rubrics are posted separately on the SeaPerch website.
On Saturday evening a gala Awards Banquet will be held at the J W Marriott, the official team hotel, for approximately 800 attendees where the presentation of the awards will take place. Trophies will be awarded for the first three places in each event for middle, high and open class as well as the awarding of the Technical Director’s choice for design innovation. Featured speakers are invited to observe the competition during the day and to address the students that evening at the banquet about the importance of STEM to their future careers. Corporate sponsors, state and city representatives, ONR, US Navy and US Coast Guard personnel who are attending the banquet, will also be invited to judge the various competitions and to interact with the students during the day’s activities. In addition to the 100 teams of students and their leaders, classmates, parents, friends, volunteers, judges, VIP’s, speakers and committee members will make up the projected total attendance of 800 in Indianapolis.
The next day, Sunday, May 19, teams will have an opportunity to explore on their own the many and varied educational opportunities available within the city limits of Indianapolis. Our hosts, Indiana State Regions, will provide ideas for the day’s activities including visits to parks, historic sites and museums all within easy walking distance of the hotel.
All students will receive National SeaPerch Challenge T-shirts and SeaPerch medals for their participation in the National Challenge as well as an event bag filled with items provided by the SeaPerch program, corporate sponsors, our Indiana hosts and AUVSIF. Additionally, Certificates of Participation and Appreciation are posted on the SeaPerch website both for student participants and for teachers and advisors to download following the National Challenge.
New this year, The National SeaPerch Challenge will collaborate with NTMA’s 2013 National Robotics League (NRL) Championships, also to be held on the IUPUI campus on May 17-19, 2013, the third year in a row its National Championship will be held in Indianapolis. The NRL is a student-designed robot combat competition intended to introduce a new generation of Americans to the advanced skills and sophisticated technology that mark manufacturing today. The collaboration is more of an exchange, which will allow for interaction among the participants during the overlapping two days of national championships. “The SeaPerch Program and the NTMA are excited about this opportunity to provide an exchange forum for these simultaneous events allowing the student participants of both to visit each other’s championships, interact with their peers and learn about different robotics platforms as they observe each other’s skills in the heat of battle,” added Nelson.
National SeaPerch Challenge sponsorship opportunities are still available for individual, local and corporate funding, details of which are posted on the SeaPerch website, www.seaperch.org. Also, we are always in need of volunteers and judges. Should you be interested in participating as a volunteer or judge on May 18, please click on the following link: http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1149740.
For More Information
Phil Kimball, Program Director
Please also visit the AUVSIF website at www.AUVSIF.org to learn more about the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation, which promotes the development of aerial, land-based and subsea robotic systems.
(As published in the April 2013 edition of Marine Technologies - www.seadiscovery.com)