BRYANT – As an important tool of space exploration and deep-sea research, robotics is a vital field in the future of science. Forty teams put their robotics knowledge to the test at the 2022 Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge on April 11 at the Center at Bishop Park in Bryant.
At the event, hosted by Arkansas 4-H and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, junior and high school student teams steered their remotely operated vehicles through two underwater challenge courses and answered interview questions from judges.
The overall winning junior, senior and open teams will head to the International SeaPerch Challenge at the University of Maryland on June 4. The Trumpinators – Colton Edwards and Trevor Edwards of Madison County – are the winning senior team, and their coach is Darrin Henderson. The winning junior team is the Wave Shockers from Grant County: Jaxson Andrews, Luke Douthit, Kaylynn Cogbill and Martin Nash, with coach Brad McGinley. The winning open team is BZBot2 from Washington County: Ash Wood and Ryuji Adhryan, with coach Len Wood.
Teams constructed their submersible robots using more than three dozen parts, including PVC pipes, pieces of pool noodle, propellers, three 12-volt motors and batteries. At each challenge station, two members from each team were tasked with steering the robot through the course and handling the rope or wire attached to the robot. In the obstacle course, competitors had to navigate their robots through a series of plastic hoops placed at different angles. The mission course, designed to simulate space exploration, tested the robots’ abilities to pick up and move objects.
Teams were timed during their progress through the courses, with judges at each station rating their performance. The teams were also scored on their technical reports for the project, and on their engineering notebooks, which they submitted in advance. These notebooks document the engineering process throughout the build of each team’s ROV and were included in the judging and overall team rankings.
Lori Canada, extension 4-H STEM coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the competition engaged students across multiple skills.
“It was a great day to have the Arkansas 4-H SeaPerch event at the Bryant Parks and Recreation Center at Bishop Park,” Canada said. “Many thanks to our sponsor Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas for supporting our program. This is a great opportunity for youth to learn and grow in more skills than just engineering. Through the SeaPerch program, participants practice critical thinking, problem-solving, presentation skills and so much more. Congratulations to all the teams that participated in this year’s competition. ”
The competition also included an interview, during which judges questioned participants about their design process, competition goals and individual roles in their robot’s construction. Teams were rated on their engineering design process, their organization and creativity, and the confidence and clarity of their presentation during the interview.
As a longtime Arkansas 4-H partner, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas encourages the 4-H model of “learning by doing” practiced in the SeaPerch Challenge.
“The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and Arkansas 4-H have a long-standing partnership to provide learning opportunities for the youth of our great state,” said Rob Roedel, director of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “The SeaPerch program is an excellent avenue to attract our future leaders to STEM-based opportunities. We look forward to working with Arkansas 4-H to make the Arkansas SeaPerch program one of the best in the nation. ”