by Tyler Hale
In March, Arkansas students will be competing in an underwater robotics competition. Arkansas 4H and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have partnered to host the 2020 Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge on March 6 in Bryant.
During the competition, students will pilot a remote-operated submersible – the SeaPerch – and will be required to navigate it through obstacle courses. In addition, there will be other tasks, including moving plastic objects and placing them in other areas, that will be required.
According to Rob Roedel, director of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, the competition is designed to fire up students’ imagination and spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.
“Arkansas’ electric cooperatives are dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the youth in all areas of our great state,”he said in a statement. “Our partnership with Arkansas 4-H has grown and will continue to expand the Arkansas SeaPerch program. The electric cooperatives are committed to supporting STEM-based learning opportunities for future leaders.”
SeaPerch is a national robotics program that teaches students, as well as teachers, how to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). As part of the program, students construct the SeaPerch from a kit, using readily available parts, and a prepared curriculum provides instruction on engineering and science concepts.
The program had its genesis in a book called “How to Build an Underwater Robot,” written by Harry Bohm and Vickie Jensen, which featured the design and parts list for the SeaPerch. MIT Professor Thomas Consi later developed a curriculum around the SeaPerch. The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) partnered with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop it into a national STEM program. SeaPerch has been managed by RoboNation since 2011.