Not even the threat of ominous grey clouds could keep 75 students from participating in the fourth annual Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge at the Camana Bay Sports Complex on March 23. After all, their robots were designed to get wet.
Representing eight schools across the Cayman Islands, the students spent months designing, constructing and testing their Remote Operated Vehicles — commonly called ROVs — to complete an underwater obstacle course and mission course with a rescue and recovery theme.
In the end, the John Gray Aqua Lasers (Alvan Boxwell, Caleb Feare, Diamond White and Matthew Feare) won the Middle School division while the Layman E. Scott Brac Bots (Kenny Ryan and Joseph Wagner) placed first in the High School division.
John Gray teacher and Aqua Lasers Coach Desmond White says the level of competition was higher than ever before.
“The pool events this year required that the ROVs be designed and built not only for speed, but also for a high degree of maneuverability,” he said. “The team spent many hours working very hard at coming up with a design that could perform optimally in all areas. Along the way, they have acquired skills that can be transferred to other areas of their lives, including the fact that if you dedicate yourself to a task and work hard, you are far more likely to be successful.”
The winning teams qualified for the International SeaPerch Challenge and will be travelling to the University of Maryland in early June to represent the Cayman Islands. The Middle School division’s runner-ups were the Layman E. Scott Giant Slayers (Raldayne Thomas and Romarco Morrison) while third place went to the St. Ignatius Vindicators (Charles Henderson and Michael Marzouca).
In the High School division, the second and third place awards were won by two all-girl teams: the Layman E. Scott Robo-Unicorns (Tianna Grey and Mikayla Bryan) and John Gray Team MAJur (Melissa Bachet, Asaiah Thomas and Jada White).
This year’s competition included a number of new awards. The Aqua Lasers won the Innovation Award for designing and adding a magnetised clip to their ROV, to assist with the collection of objects while underwater. Newcomers Triple C School took home the “Rookie” award for their impressive first-time showing at the competition.
St. Ignatius Catholic School aided a fellow team who were in need of repair parts to complete their timed segment and won the Sportmanship Award as a result. St. Ignatius also won the Teacher Award, which was shared by Von Ryan Abrantes and James McGill, who together entered eight teams from their school in the competition this year.
Presented by Dart Minds Inspired in collaboration with Maples Group, Women’s International Shipping and Trade Association and London & Amsterdam, the Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge is a hands-on integration of the “STEM” subjects, which include science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with applications both inside and outside of the classroom.
Dart Education Programmes Manager Glenda McTaggart says this year’s event saw the largest number of student teams to date.
“The Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge has quadrupled since its first year, starting with only six teams and now boasting 24,” she says. “The elevated STEM capabilities of Cayman’s students is becoming increasingly apparent in the growth of the tournament year over year.”
Dart Chief Executive Officer Mark VanDevelde says Dart’s commitment to STEM is rooted in the Dart family’s belief that these subjects are fundamental building blocks for success in school and life.
“The mission of Minds Inspired is to provide our young people with unique STEM learning experiences that prepare them for the careers of the future and the challenges of tomorrow,” he says. “Through STEM, young people learn how to overcome challenges through teamwork, innovative thinking and a strong, personal work ethic.”
Maples Group Partner Sherice Arman says the company was impressed by the response to the 2019 SeaPearch Challenge and looks forward to continuing to support the competition next year.
“The Maples Group is proud to continue its support of the SeaPerch Challenge,” she says. “It is essential that students have a robust education while at the same time expanding their horizons to the various opportunities of STEM-based careers.”
The next robotics event on the Minds Inspired calendar is the “Rover Ruckus” FIRST Technical Challenge scheduled to be held from 4 p.m. on May 11 at the Camana Bay Arts & Recreation Centre.
For more information, visit www.mindsinspired.ky.