Duval students make a splash at international underwater robotics competition

Updated: Oct 19, 2018

June 27, 2018 - “Little sharks doing big things.”

It’s how members of Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School’s “Team Megasharks” are describing their recent victories at the 2018 International SeaPerch Challenge, held earlier this month at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The four-student team outperformed students from around the world, placing in multiple categories – including first-place in the obstacle course, and third-place overall.

The annual SeaPerch Challenge invites middle and high school students to construct Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) that can maneuver underwater obstacle courses, which are held in pools. Teams are tasked with building an ROV using motors and a control box from a SeaPerch kit, along with the option of using other additional approved items. Among the materials used by Mayport’s Megasharks were galvanized steel wire, shampoo bottles and wine bottle corks.  To prepare for the competition, the team spent months working as many as three days a week diving deep into STEM skills and concepts that include ship design, physics, soldering, circuitry, buoyancy and propulsion.

Once in Dartmouth, Mass., team members Chris Hooper, Paul Shanklin, Will Kiley, and Connor Lynch spent two days competing with groups from 178 middle and high schools. The Megasharks secured their first-place finish in the obstacle course with the fastest time in the entire competition, at 31.06 seconds. Students also earned a 4th place finish in the Engineering Notebook Presentation Category, and a 14th place finish in the Finesse Challenge Obstacle. It was the combination of these three wins that enabled the Megasharks to earn enough points to secure a 3rd place overall finish in the middle school competition.

This is the team’s second consecutive time to compete in the International Challenge. They were led by Mayport science teacher Bill Hudson, and advisors Chris Shanklin and Wade Fallan. Hashrocket, Inc. and the 4-H Technical Wizards Program served as team sponsors.

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