GEORGETOWN, Texas –
The Navy Recruiting Command Southwest Region City Outreach Program, in cooperation with the Georgetown Independent School District and Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, hosted a Regional SeaPerch Underwater Robotics Challenge Qualifier at the Georgetown Recreation Center March 24.
More than 40 teams from south Texas high schools, middle schools and elementary schools competed to advance to the International SeaPerch Championships to be held at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth from June 1-3.
Placing first in the high school division was Team Narwhals of East View High School and first place in the middle school division was Team Titans of Benold Middle School. Both schools, located in Georgetown, advanced to compete and represent their city at international competition.
The regional qualifier consisted of three evolutions: speed obstacle course, challenge course, and interview/presentation. The top six teams with the best scores from each division advanced to the interview portion of the competition.
According to Team Narwhals coach Kelly Spiller, his students’ advancement to international competition was a testament of their hard work.
“They did this on their own,” said Spiller, who teaches forensic science and chemistry at East View High School. “My job was basically to recruit smart kids and let them do what they do. I am really proud of them.”
Paul Boff, the career and technical education coordinator for Georgetown ISD, oversees the SeaPerch training of the coaches, procurement of SeaPerch kits and construction of SeaPerch obstacle and challenge courses.
“We have a great partnership between the Navy and Georgetown ISD,” said Boff, who’s been involved with SeaPerch since 2016. “Additionally, SeaPerch provides a program which allows the district to reach from the high school down to the elementary grade level.
“There are many communication, collaboration, and team building skills that we teach in our learner profile within the ISD,” Boff continued. “Through the SeaPerch process, the students are challenged. It makes them come together as a team.”
According to Holly Braun, who served as a middle and elementary school interview judge, the presentations were amazing.
“It was great to see the elementary students compete,” said Braun, who teaches biology at Georgetown High School. “It’s great to provide them the opportunity to think and solve problems. Additionally, having some so many female students involved in the competition was gratifying as well.”
According to Lt. Cmdr. Diana Tran-Yu, Navy City Outreach Southwest Region officer, participating in SeaPerch demonstrates that the students are committed to having a future in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM.
“This event was important because we were able to unite a diverse group of students from all different backgrounds and educational levels,” Tran-Yu said. “America’s Navy expresses its gratitude towards the Georgetown ISD, Georgetown Recreation Center, coaches, volunteers and sponsors for making this year’s regional qualifier a huge success.”
SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, in an in-school or out-of-school setting.
Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme.
For more information on the SeaPerch Program, visit http://www.seaperch.org.