Photo Credit: Emara Saez/Achona Online/Piktochart
Starting in the spring of 2020, the Academy Robotics team, known as the Jagwires, will be expanding its horizons to compete in the SeaPearch Challenge. SeaPerch includes a series of regional and national competitions involving underwater robotics. During each season, teams are asked to build robots that are capable of doing several tasks underwater. The tasks range from picking items up off a pool floor to going through underwater hoops.
High school math teacher and Engineering Department Chair Anne Wynn brought the idea of the SeaPerch Challenge to Academy, and will supervise the building process. High school science teacher Carson Dobrin will also be assisting with the SeaPerch Challenge.
“We wanted to start a Seaperch team because it is a very accessible program. It’s really easy, it’s a manageable size, and it doesn’t require any background knowledge or previous experience in robotics, which is awesome so we can reach a wider amount of girls in the school. We have a beautiful pool facility plus the bay outside, so it makes sense for us to do something water incorporated. It also brings in the corporate stances of the sisters of access to clean water for all. We want to take it one step further; instead of just having a robot that can compete, we want to be able to help the community and embody the sisters’ stances,” said Anne Wynn.
Academy has had a Robotics team for four years, and the basic premise of each FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) season is to complete a task using a student-driven robot. The team typically spends the majority of the season building a robot to complete the task, and then competes towards the end of the school semester. After the end of the first semester, the Jagwires combine with Jesuit’s robotics team to compete in FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) for the second semester of the school year. However, due to conflicting schedules and time constraints, many students do not compete in Robotics after the first FTC season ends. By introducing the SeaPerch Challenge, the Jagwires hope to increase participation and continue robotics at Academy into the second semester.
“It’s a good way to learn if you’re interested in the engineering field. There is a lot of demand for female engineers and, even if you’ve never done anything like this, its really cool to build something that could potentially help a lot of people. It’s a fulfilling experience and it’s really rewarding to be part of a team that builds something all by ourselves,” said Maddie Glaum (‘21).
SeaPerch competitions usually have two in-pool tasks that are designed to test the functionality of the student-built robots. The first task is an obstacle course designed to test maneuverability under timed conditions, and the second task is a mission course to challenge the robot’s ability to adapt to real-world problems.
By participating in the SeaPerch challenge, students can learn about ship and submarine design, buoyancy, displacement, propulsion, electricity, ergonomics, and career possibilities. Ultimately, the Jagwires hope to learn skills from participating in the SeaPerch Challenge to apply to real-world problems. For example, many of the skills used in underwater robotics could be used to assist with ocean cleanup on Bayshore.
“I think people should care about SeaPerch because it’s one of those new things students are starting at Academy that has a lot of potential. It has many real-world applications because what we are doing is putting things together, creating new ideas, brainstorming, and then taking those ideas and making them a reality. We are actually developing our ideas in real life, learning how to use tools, and manifesting those ideas into the real world. We want to take our ideas and turn them into something good like cleaning up the bay,” said Olivia Scarpo (‘21).
The Jagwires aspire to keep up with the competition this season, put STEM on the radar of Academy’s student body, develop the technology to solve water-related issues, and eventually qualify for SeaPerch Nationals.
“Our ultimate goal is to take these robots and put them into the bay and use them to clean out litter, take water samples for the community, or a wide variety of things,” said Wynn.
The Jagwires hope that, by introducing the SeaPerch Challenge, STEM at Academy will continue to grow and receive the attention it deserves. If you are interested in participating in the SeaPerch Challenge, an interest meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 23, after school in the iLab from 2:45-3:00 PM. If you can not make the meeting, reach out to either Olivia Scarpo (‘21), Jenessa Bailey (‘21), Maddie Glaum (‘21), Wynn, or Dobrin for more information.
“We want as many people as possible to join; If you’re even remotely interested you should give it a try. This year, we hope to at least build the foundation and help with STEM representation at school,” said Glaum.