Grant HS SeaPerch Team Heading For Atlanta
By N3 Curiosity Squad
The Grant High School SeaPerch team competed against teams from across the state in Detroit on April 8 and was selected to take their robot to the national competition on May 19 at Georgia Tech. This project in its second year at Grant was initiated by Mike Maksimchuk, GHS Physics teacher who has donated his time after school to assist students in developing their robots.
Acting on a hot tip we contacted Mr. Maksimchuk to pose a few questions about SeaPerch.
N3-Admittedly I had never heard of the SeaPerch Competition before learning of your team’s success.Can you give a bit of a description for our readers who may be as unfamiliar?
MM-SeaPerch, while an odd name, is actually a small Remotely-Controlled Underwater Vehicle. The US Navy, in conjunction with the Underwater Autonomous Vehicle Association, sponsors this event. The robots are...
...student-designed and built. The students are provided with PVC for a frame, foam pool noodles for the floats, small electric motors, propellers, and everything else you need to build the robot. After showing the students participating in the program what the challenges were at the competition, they designed a robot that would meet the specifications provided, and meet the challenges. This is part of the Navy’s outreach program for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)
N3-How did you get this started at Grant?
MM-It all stemmed from an e-mail sent out to the science teachers last year from NC-RESA. I figured it might be a cool project, and since the Navy was paying for it, we decided to give it a shot. I really didn’t know what the SeaPerch would look like, or much about the program. It sounded like a cool opportunity for our students, so I gave it a shot.
N3-Were students recruited for the project or was it open to any with an interest?
MM-Last year, I did the competition with my entire physics class, since it was a small group of students already. This year, initially we had this program open to those students who had completed or currently enrolled in our physics, engineering, or math with technology classes. This ensured that the students participating had some engineering/technical knowledge prior to starting this project, since it is almost entirely student-driven. My main role was answering questions, and helping troubleshoot.
N3-Tell us a little about your robotics team.
MM-This year, we had 6 young men, juniors and seniors, build the robots.
N3-What were the biggest challenges?
MM-Finding time to work with the students on the robots and their engineering reports was difficult. We worked on Tuesdays after school from 3:00 to 5:00 for 8 weeks. The students had to then write an engineering report, which details the changes they made to their robot, why they made those changes, and what the pros/cons of the changes were. The other big hurdle for us was to find funding for the National trip. We have set up a GoFundMe for this purpose. Otherwise, the Navy took care of the cost of the robots through a grant, and the school paid for transportation to Detroit and back using one of the school vans.
N3-What have been the greatest rewards?
MM-Seeing these kids enjoy the process of engineering, trouble-shooting their robots, and learning how to build something with their hands. Teaching these kids to solder their circuit boards together was pretty cool.
N3- Why is it important?
MM-STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM is important because it pervades every part of our lives. Science is everywhere in the world around us. Technology is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives. Engineering is the basic designs of roads and bridges, but also tackles the challenges of changing global weather and environmentally-friendly changes to our home. Mathematics is in every occupation; every activity we do in our lives. By exposing students to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore STEM-related concepts, they will develop a passion for it and hopefully pursue a job in a STEM field.
N3-You’ve put a lot of your own time into this. What have you gained from this?
MM-The enjoyment of working with these young men in building their robots, teaching them to solder and problem-solve (thinking like an engineer).
MM-Last year, our students won the whole competition, but due to then-current board policies, we could not take our students to the national competition. Over the summer, before we even knew we may compete again, the school board changed this policy. After the Regional competition this year, one of our teams scored high enough in the three areas (the challenge course, the obstacle course, and the engineering notebook) that they were invited to compete in the National competition. We are in the process of raising funds to send two of our students to Atlanta, GA to compete. The link for anyone who would like to contribute is https://www.gofundme.com/GHS-SeaPerch .