Underwater robotics competition held at APG's Shore Pool

July 12, 2012

Story Highlights

  • Second annual Sea Perch underwater robotics completion was recently held.
  • The first challenge was a Slaval Operation of a series of five gallon buckets.
  • Sea Perch can be found at www.seaperch.org

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL's) National Defense Education Program and Techbrick Robotics hosted the second annual Sea Perch underwater robotics competition at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Shore Pool on June 16. Ten teams from Harford and Cecil Counties built robots and competed in three challenges.

The first challenge was the Salvage Operation, where the robots had to lift a series of five gallon buckets, which contained up to two pounds of bolts from the bottom of the pool and remove them from the water. The second challenge was the obstacle course, where the robots raced through a series of hoops in the pool. At the end, each team gave a short presentation on what they learned during the season for the third and final challenge.

Each of the teams displayed engineering skills, sometimes redesigning and repairing their robots between the matches. They also displayed unique team spirit, with colorful costumes such as those displayed by the Camo Catfish Operation team.

"Sea Perch has been a perfect program for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students at the Boys and Girls Club. Our teams loved learning to use power tools and working together to build a real working underwater robot," said Susan Ciavolino of the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County. "This was a new program to most of these students, but everyone from ARL and Techbrick was encouraging and supportive of our efforts. It was a great learning experience for our kids."

Volunteers from ARL included Dr. Christopher Hoppel, Dr. Sandra Young, Dr. Richard Becker, Dr. Jon Bornstein, Ann Bornstein, Dr. Aaron Jackson, Timothy Mermagen, Dr. MaryAnne Fields and Miles Pekala. Other volunteers included Scott Slayback and David Slayback (David is a summer student at ARL), Steve Padgett from DAP Adhesives, Dan Danner from Raytheon and Amy Ciavolino, Marco Ciavolino, Andrew Schmidt, Danielle Hoppel, Wyatt Jordan and Nick Padgett, all from Techbrick Robotics.

"I was impressed at how seriously the students took the competition. Several of the teams held practice events at other pools leading up to the challenge, and there was great camaraderie between the teams," said Hoppel.

Young was equally impressed. She said, "As a scientist, it's exciting to come out to these events and see enthusiastic students testing out their robots (putting them in the water and some sink and won't float and some float and won't sink) and doing engineering on-the-fly; something we do in the labs all the time."

The major awards are listed in the following table.

Awards

Award

Team

Organization

First Place Overall

Thing 1

Rising Sun High School

Second Place Overall

Thing 2

Rising Sun High School

Third Place Overall

The Camo Catfish Operation

Techbrick Robotics

Best Salvage Operation, High School Division

Thing 1

Rising Sun High School

Best Obstacle Course, High School Division

Thing 1

Rising Sun High School

Best Presentation, High School Division

The Sheep of the Deep

Techbrick Robotics

Best Salvage Operation, Middle School Division

Aberdeen Devils

Aberdeen Boys and Girls Club

Best Obstacle Course, Middle School Division

Aberdeen Devils

Aberdeen Boys and Girls Club

Best Presentation, Middle School Division

Team ADHD

Edgewood Boys and Girls Club

Admiral Rickover Award, High School Award

Thing 1

Rising Sun High School

Thomas Edison Award, High School Award

Thing 2

Rising Sun High School

Da Vinci Award, High School Award

The Camo Catfish Operation

Techbrick Robotics

Archimedes Award, High School Award

The Sheep of the Deep

Techbrick Robotics

Admiral Rickover Award, Middle School Award

Delphinidae Mergulus

Uhlig Academy, Bel Air, MD

Thomas Edison Award, Middle School Award

Team Trident

Edgewood Boys and Girls Club

Da Vinci Award, Middle School Award

Dirty Dan’s Gang

Aberdeen Boys and Girls Club

Archimedes Award, Middle School Award

Robot on da Loose

Edgewood Boys and Girls Club

Following the competition, there was a group barbeque sponsored by the Maryland Section of the American Chemical Society and an awards ceremony. More information on Sea Perch can be found at www.seaperch.org.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: July 12, 2012