A group of Sampson Middle School eighth grade students will travel more than 1,500 miles this summer to take part in an international robotics competition.
The students, who are part of SeaPerch, an innovative underwater robotics program that equips students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), qualified to take part in the International SeaPerch Challenge at the University of Dartmouth in Massachusetts in June.
“We are all really anxious,” Alex Gomez, an eighth-grade student, said. “We are looking forward to representing Sampson Middle School in a big competition.”
According to Leslie Matthis, science teacher at Sampson Middle School, students competed in January against 50 teams from across the state. During regional competition, one robot placed first in the overall competition and another placed fourth. Only one robot will be taken to the international competition, but all students who are part of the robotics team will have the opportunity to travel and compete in portions of the competition.
At the international competition, Matthis said the Sampson Middle students will compete against teams from all over the world.
“I hope we are able to put Clinton on the map,” Vaytoni Bell said.
While participating in the program, students built 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. Skills learned were buoyancy, displacement, propulsion, soldering, tool safety and usage, electrical circuits and switches, waterproofing and the basic physics of motion.
“Throughout the work of the project, we have had an opportunity to learn how to deal with people,” Dion Simmons said. “This has required us to learn how to work together as a team.”
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. Prior to the competition, students utilized a 300 gallon tank to practice their underwater skills. With this being the first year of the SeaPerch program, students have spent enrichment time and stayed after school to work on their robots.
“The students have taken complete ownership of this project,” Matthis said. “Students are required to do the competition portion on their own, and in the process, they are learning how to communicate with adults and other people.”
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.
“Competing is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us to represent a small community at a big competition,” Gomez explained.
Sampson Middle’s SeaPerch team includes Johnathon Blackmon, Gage Simmons, Dion Simmons, Vaytoni Bell, Morgan Johnson, Airiana Troublefield, Alex Gomez, Robert Altier and Tyler Mattocks.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.