Oregon Coast Aquarium Hosts a Kind of Underwater Robot Wars
(Newport, Oregon) – It's a little like those robot war competitions for students, except these are underwater bots moved around by real people.
Last week, Oregon Coast Aquarium hosted competition for Remotely Operated Vehicles – otherwise known as an ROV, where Lincoln County middle and high school students were part of the Oregon Regional Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) ROV program.
The program aims to engage students in the engineering world by having them work in that world. These activities link to real world problems and current research, said said Tracy Crews, Marine Education Manager with Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Coordinator.
About 24 teams from Lincoln County vied for the opportunity to advance to the statewide regional competition on May 4 in Lincoln City.
Taft High School 7th grade student Aaron Chadwell explained why he participated.
“We all thought it was pretty fun because we got to build something,” Chadwell said. “It was cool to learn the wiring and we got to do everything ourselves.”
The contest parameters require students to build ROVs that are capable of tasks related to an underwater workplace related theme. This year’s contest focuses on “Ocean Observing Systems,” so students had to design ROVs that can grab and move objects and uncouple scientific equipment. Entries are also judged on the students’ ability to work together and on a poster and presentation that explains each group’s robot.
“Every time we turn around our kids find something to get involved in,” said Robert Rowell, a parent whose daughter was not just a participant, but she also volunteers at the Aquarium. “I think things like this make them enjoy school more.”
MATE hopes the ROV competition will expose students to science and technology careers by challenging them to develop their own solutions to common tasks in the underwater workplace. The event in Lincoln County was organized by Oregon Sea Grant and the Lincoln County School District and hosted by the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The purchase of materials and equipment was made possible through a grant from the Siletz Charitable Contribution Fund. Interested educators should contact Tracy Crews at Hatfield Marine Science Center for more information.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, Oregon. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474.
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