LA PLATA, Md. (April 20, 2009)—Five Charles County Public Schools' robotics teams placed in the 2009 Save the Bay Robotics Challenge held April 4 at North Point High School. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Navy and National Defense Education Program and is part of the 2008-09 Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) In-School Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.
The "Blue Crabs" team from Dr. James Craik Elementary School won first place in the technical category. In this category, students were judged on the construction and programming of their robot, and were asked to have their robot demonstrate at least one mission. Team members are fifth-graders Abdullah Ghori and Melton Campbell, and fourth graders Amita McDonald and Shannon Collins.
The "Peanut Butter" team from Piccowaxen Middle School won first place in the research category. In this category, students were judged on research conducted on aspects of the Chesapeake Bay. The team was required to present their research during a 10-minute interview with judges. Team members are seventh graders Ashley Galope, Chacity Lollar, Zane Reitmayer, Jacklyn Swann, John McNamara, Amanda Strickland, Katherine Snee, William Coggins, Jessica Hirst, Troy Rose and Julianna Dawson.
The "Water Runners" team from Indian Head Elementary School won third place in the technical category, second place in the research category and third place in the robotics category. The team also won third place overall in the event. The robotics category required students to complete eight challenges with their robots on a constructed challenge board. Team members are fifth graders Jack Lyons, Kaitlyn Davis, Lauren Duckett and Jordan Johnson.
Indian Head had two other teams place in the event.
The "Runoffs" team won third place in the teamwork category, in which all teams were interviewed and judged on their abilities to work as a team. Team members are Kayla Baltimore, Tyler Holt, Shanel Thompson, Amanda Hobgood and Kevin Chen.
The "Yellow Perch" team also placed third in the technical category. Team members are fifth graders Kyle Phillips, Kyle Fabina, Brittany Abernathy, Cori Montgomery, Alyssa Danner and Kaelei Linkins.
The event featured two levels of competition: one for fifth-grade teams and one for seventh-grade teams. All teams were required to complete challenges with their robots, including cleaning up a power plant, delivering oysters to the bay, preventing land erosion, scanning water for crab populations, dredging a river and searching for pollutants. Teams also participated in teamwork and technical interviews, and were judged on their research projects.
Teams from J.P. Ryon Elementary School and General Smallwood and Matthew Henson middle schools also competed in the event.
The program was launched at the six competing Charles County schools earlier this school year. Over a period of 16 weeks, engineers from the Indian Head and Bethesda-based Carderock Naval Surface Warfare Centers, and technical students from the College of Southern Maryland served as mentors to help students work with robotics, engineering challenges and scientific investigations studying the Chesapeake Bay. Each mentor spent at least two hours of class time with the students at each school per week.
Fifth-grade student teams worked to build and program robots capable of performing up to eight different robotics challenges within a period of three minutes. Teams also selected one of the eight challenges for their research proposal.
Seventh-grade student teams worked to build and program robots capable of performing up to six challenges. Teams also selected one of the six challenges for their research proposal.
The program also required students to conduct scientific investigation on different issues within the Chesapeake Bay. Expert lecturers visited each school once a month to speak to teams about water and marine life in the Chesapeake Bay. Students also were involved in field trips in fish seining and measuring bay conditions, to collecting yellow perch eggs and raising them in their classrooms to release them.
The second half of the program is the summer robotics and engineering program and students who competed in the challenge will be invited to participate. The summer program will feature advanced robotics and engineering challenges and will be held in Charles and St. Mary's counties for more than 400 students.
Source: Charles County public school system