Sampson Middle School’s eighth-grade students may be five years away from making a decision about their future, but a program through the University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers them a glimpse into one career path.
According to Alex Gomez, an eighth-grade student in Leslie Matthis’ science class, a group of students have been selected to participate in SeaPerch, an innovative underwater robotics program that equips students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).
“The SeaPerch program provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science and mathematics (STEM) while building an underwater ROV as part of a science and engineering technology curriculum,” Gomez explained. “Throughout the project, students will learn engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork and technical applications.”
While participating in the program, Gomez said students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. Skill learned are buoyancy, displacement, propulsion, soldering, tool safety and usage, electrical circuits and switches, waterproofing and the basic physics of motion.
Matthis attended training in September at UNCW with instructors on how to lead students through the process of designing and creating their own underwater robot. In just a couple of weeks, the Sampson Middle students will take their four robots to competition, competing against other teams from across the region in an underwater obstacle course.
Students have a 300 gallon tank they are currently using to practice their underwater skills.
“The students have taken complete ownership of this project,” Matthis said. “Students are eager to work and look forward to competing Jan. 20. Teams will compete against other teams throughout the region to navigate an underwater obstacle course.”
Clinton High School will also have a team that competes under their coach, James Moore.
This is the first year of the SeaPerch program at SMS and CHS. Students, for now, must spend enrichment time and stay after school to work on their robots and practice for competition.
Sampson Middle’s SeaPerch team includes Johnathon Blackmon, Gage Simmons, Dion Simmons, Vaytoni Bell, Morgan Johnson, Airiana Troublefield, Gomez, Robert Altier and Tyler Mattocks.
When asked about the project and program, many of the students say it’s a great learning experience, but also a way to develop relationships.
“I think SeaPerch is a great way to make new friends and work on our teamwork skills while also learning about robotics,” Bell said.
“It is a fun and good way to learn how to build a underwater robot and learn a little about engineering,” Mattocks shared.
The SeaPerch program has been challenging for some students.
”SeaPerch has been a fun, but challenging project,” Blackmon said. “I have learned through trial and error that if I put my mind to a task I can accomplish it.”
Sampson Middle School’s staff and administration has worked on out-of-the-box and unique ways for students to learn different skills. Currently, students have the opportunity to utilize technology in many different ways to help them learn.
“I think it’s a good opportunity because there is exposure to things we wouldn’t get in a normal classroom setting,” Troublefield shared. “It’s also a fun way to incorporate math and science without being in a classroom.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.