Underwater robotics

Glynn Middle School’s underwater robotics, shown here testing their machine, team will compete today in the region competition in Savannah.

Most extracurricular teams teach skills like collaboration, leadership and sportsmanship. Glynn Middle School’s underwater robotics team also teaches skills like soldering, electrical wiring and engineering.

The team’s members have spent the semester designing and building a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, which they will unveil today at their annual competition.

The 2018 Gray’s Reef Southeast Regional MATE ROV Competition will be held today at the Chatham County Aquatic Center in Savannah.

Glynn Middle’s underwater robotics team consists of 12 members who spend the school year preparing for the region competition, which is based on real-life scenarios in which underwater ROVs have been used, such as capping the BP oil spill.

“The competition tries to simulate actual events that the ROV could be used for in real life,” said eighth-grade team member Parker Sams at a practice Wednesday.

The students design and operate the ROV according to competition guidelines. The competition will include several obstacle challenges for which they’ll operate the ROV underwater.

“One of them is a mock up of a wrecked airplane and a PVC pipe with identification numbers to test the robot’s camera, and the other is a base for a tidal turbine,” said team member Robert Bland.

There will also be an interview portion when the students will present a comprehensive report of the work they’ve done.

“We all did a certain part of the building of the ROV or building the props, so we’ll do a short description of what we did,” said team member Sheyla Cordova.

The competition engages students in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) activities, teaches teamwork and draws upon concepts they learn in their middle school science courses.

“I’m really into science and technology, so I thought this would be something I’d enjoy,” Cordova said.

The teams are set up in a business model, said Mary Bryson, a Glynn Middle School teacher and the program’s advisor.

“We run it like a business … So we have specific positions given,” said team member Spence Hartman. “We have specific set ups for teams, and each team does a little part of the whole ROV and props … The competition is sort of a battle of the businesses and the best business with the best product wins.”

Glynn Middle School started the Underwater Robotics team in 2016. The students said the program has seen significant growth since its inception.

“This year, we had a lot of experience under our belt and so we kind of knew how the competition would run and what we’d have to do to improve our efficiency at the competition,” Sams said.

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