Charles Co. Students Compete in Rescue the Gulf Robotics Challenge

LA PLATA, Md. (June 10, 2011)—Two Charles County Public Schools robotics teams placed in the 2011 Rescue the Gulf robotics challenge held last month at North Point High School. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Navy and National Defense Education Program and is part of the 2010-11 Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) In-School Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.

The “Oil Hunters” team from Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School won first place in the technical category and third place in the robotics category. In the technical category, students were judged on the construction and programming of their robot, and were asked to have their robot demonstrate at least one mission. The robotics category required students to complete eight challenges with their robots on a constructed challenge board.

Team members are fifth-graders Dilan Cruz-Flores, Madison French, Makayla Murphy, Jalen Parker, Miko Schairer-Nelson and Jason Woods.

The “Somers Fire Breathing Duckies” team from Milton M. Somers Middle School tied for second place in the teamwork category. In this category, students were judged on their ability to work as a team during the challenges, technical interview and project presentation. Team members are seventh-graders Benjamin Aron, Jacob Deresky, Brayden Kelley, Reed Lundegard and Avery Safley.

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 delivering supplies to a spill base, placing a barrier around a ship yard, measuring an oil spill, leading fish away and skimming for tar balls. Teams also participated in teamwork and technical interviews, and were judged on research projects about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Teams from Indian Head Elementary School and Theodore G. Davis, Matthew Henson and Benjamin Stoddert 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 Gulf of Mexico and other oil spills. Each mentor spent at least two hours of class time with the students at each school per week.

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. The program also required students to conduct scientific investigations on different issues regarding underwater oil spills.

This is the third school year that the program has been offered to students in Charles County Public Schools. Schools from St. Mary’s, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties also participated in the program this year.

Source: Charles County Public Schools

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