Teams from two Cayman Islands high schools will travel to Dartmouth, Massachusetts, to compete in the International SeaPerch Challenge underwater robotics competition from June 1-3.
The John Gray High School “Aqua Lasers” and Layman E. Scott High School “Brac Bots” earned the right to represent the Cayman Islands in Massachusetts with their performance in the Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge held on March 3 at the Camana Bay Sports Complex pool. The local competition featured 21 teams from six different schools on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
For the third consecutive year, a team from John Gray High School won overall, with the middle school “Aqua Lasers” team of Diamond White, Davonte Howell, Alvan Boxwell and Caleb Feare claiming the title of champions. Last year, the same team travelled to Atlanta, Georgia, to compete in the International SeaPerch Challenge. This year, they’ll be joined in Dartmouth by the Brac Bots team of Kenny Ryan and David Tibbetts, which won the high school division.
Tibbetts said he was excited to compete against teams from other countries. “I feel proud to be representing my country.”
More than 1,500 middle and high school students from across the globe, including the United States, Australia and the Caribbean, will take part in the International SeaPerch Challenge this year.
Desmond White, the coach of the Aqua Lasers, said competing in the international competition is a great morale booster for the students.
“They feel a sense of achievement and validation for their hard work, as they pit their skills against all the many other teams that also had to win their local competitions in order to qualify to compete,” he said, adding that their accomplishment serves as a motivating factor for their peers as well.
SeaPerch has introduced the concept of underwater robotics, naval engineering and STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to over 300,000 students in 10 countries and the number of countries and teams continues to grow.
The Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge, which is a qualifying event for the International SeaPerch Challenge, was presented in partnership by Dart’s Minds Inspired programme, the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association and the law firm of Maples and Calder.
Student participants in the Cayman Islands event were required to prepare and submit an engineering journal that logged their activities during the design and construction of their underwater remote-operated vehicles. They are then judged on how quickly they can navigate their vehicles through obstacles and move objects to different points in the pool.
The long-term goal of the Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge is to encourage more students to study STEM subjects and, ultimately, pursue STEM-related careers, said Dart Education Programmes Manager Glenda McTaggart.
“With the expanding growth of the global marine engineering industry and Cayman’s own maritime heritage, developing young people is critical for the Cayman Islands to emerge as a leader,” she said. “Minds Inspired, Maples and WISTA Cayman Islands are purposefully working towards that goal as more students are returning to and joining SeaPerch year over year.”
Claudia Grant, president of the Women in Maritime Association Caribbean and the deputy director general of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, observed last month’s competition on Grand Cayman because of the plan to launch the SeaPerch competition in Jamaica later this year.
“Our teachers have already been trained, with help from Desmond White from Cayman’s John Gray High School, and we hope to bring the programme to 20–30 schools in September,” said Ms. Grant. “I am very grateful that I was able to experience the event firsthand; the students are a true testament to teamwork and focus. We hope that this will lead to continued partnership between Jamaica and Cayman to expose more students to STEM.”