Local students were offered a glimpse into the world of marine technology when they participated in the second annual Cayman Islands SeaPerch Challenge on 11 March.
Held at the Camana Bay Sports Complex pool, 13 teams from seven local high schools competed for the chance to win a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to represent the Cayman Islands at the International SeaPerch Challenge 19-20 May.
Presented by Dart and Minds Inspired in partnership with Maples and the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, the interscholastic underwater robotics competition was created to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics – often referred to as STEM – concepts to students. Contestants were provided with special Remote Operated Vehicle kits to build and perform a series of challenges including maneuvering them easily and quickly through an obstacle course; lifting various objects; and transporting and positioning them at specific locations.
Teams from John Gray, Clifton Hunter, St. Ignatius and Layman E. Scott high schools, Cayman Prep and High School, Cayman International School and the University College of the Cayman Islands took part.
For the second consecutive year, a team from John Gray won. The winning team, called the Aqua Lasers, were led by teacher Desmond White and included students Diamond White, Davonte Howell, Caleb Feare and Alvan Boxwell. Second place winners, also from John Gray, included Leah Robinson, Nathaniel Forbes, Nicardo McIntosh and Rene Taveras.
“The students worked on the building, testing and modifications of the [Remote Operated Vehicle] over the course of a month during lunch break, after school club time and on Saturdays,” says White, adding that many of his students are members of the school’s robotics club.
He believes that participating in the competition has given his students a better understanding and greater appreciation of taking a product from concept to completion, as well as seeing firsthand the practical application of many science and engineering concepts.
“Additionally, they’ve been able to experience the value of teamwork in getting tasks done,” he says. “Their experiences overall, coupled with the fact that they won, will no doubt reinforce any thoughts they may have of exploring careers in areas such as naval architecture or marine engineering, as well as other broader areas of engineering.”
Glenda McTaggart, Education Programmes Manager at Dart Enterprises, says she believes the SeaPerch programme helps foster interest in STEM-related subjects. “We were pleased to partner with Maples and WISTA who share our goal of getting students excited about robotics and STEM, and given the success of the SeaPerch Challenge, I believe we have accomplished that goal.”