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Friday, 08 May 2015 16:25

Ballston Spa Takes 3rd in Underwater Robotics Tournament

By | Education
Two members of Ballston Spa Middle School’s 8th grade Team Phish operate their robot. Colin MacDonald, left; Jacob Claypool, right. Photo provided. Two members of Ballston Spa Middle School’s 8th grade Team Phish operate their robot. Colin MacDonald, left; Jacob Claypool, right. Photo provided.

BALLSTON SPA – The Ballston Spa Central School District hosted an underwater tournament for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) on Tuesday May 5. Middle School students on SeaPerch teams from throughout the Capital Region tested their skill at guiding the ROVs through a course in the Ballston Spa High School pool while completing several tasks. Ballston Spa’s Team Phish placed third overall out of 17 teams. First and second place went to teams from Niskayuna. 

SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program developed by MIT and the Office of Naval Research that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater ROV in a classroom or afterschool setting. Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic skills in engineering with a focus on ship and submarine design.

“We’ve seen over the years that STEM enrichment activities tend to lead students to higher level math and science classes in high school and beyond,” said Diane Irwin, Science Coordinator for the Ballston Spa Central School District. “Tuesday’s competition is a prime example. The students were not only creating the robots, but were working with skilled engineers. It’s an incredible opportunity for them.”

The SeaPerch program is funded through a grant from the Bechtel Foundation and led by a team of staff and volunteers. Several Middle School teachers serve as advisors while Engineers from Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories (KAPL) engineers serve as mentors for the Ballston Spa teams of 3 to 4 students each. They have been meeting after school and constructing their own underwater ROVs with the goal of participating in the underwater robotics competition.

This is the third year that the school district has participated with SeaPerch. To learn more about the program, visit www.SEAPERCH.org. For additional information on robotics initiatives in Ballston Spa, contact Diane Irwin through the school district at 518-884-7150.

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