Sea Perch team brings home 2nd place

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 27, 2018

On March 17, West Side Elementary’s 5th and 6th grade gifted students traveled to the Biloxi Natatorium to compete in the international SeaPerch competition.

Gifted teacher Alicia Verweij said her students began working on their remote operated vehicle in January. They spent the following ten weeks learning about basic engineering and robotics. Students used an extensive engineering notebook to keep track of their progress and record necessary changes or adjustments.

In recent years, the United States has fallen significantly behind other developed countries in terms of STEM education. As a result, many elementary schools across America looked for ways to involve students in science and engineering at a young age. 

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Preparing for the SeaPerch competition allowed West Side students to learn STEM concepts in elementary school. While designing their vehicle, students got hands-on experience in the basics of soldering, how to wire motors, design a circuit board for the remote control and other techniques, Verweij said.

In addition to learning immersive engineering skills, students also learned concepts that Verweij said will foster critical thinking and give them a strong foundation in STEM – something that will ultimately help the students as they move on to middle school, high school, college and beyond.

Once their ROV was perfected, students of West Side Elementary traveled to Biloxi to compete.

“The Regional SeaPerch competition was intense as teams maneuvered their ROVs through the pool with spectators watching from the side lines. During the competition phase, the team put their creation to the test against other student engineers. The competition phase of the SeaPerch Challenge included a series of challenges designed to assess the student’s work,” Verweij wrote about the competition.

After a full day of competition, the robotics team won second place. They also placed 2nd for their engineering notebook, and 3rd for the presentation.

While they will unfortunately not be moving on to the next phase of the competition, Verweij said the event was a valuable experience for the team. She said they will meet again soon to compare notes about the competition and discuss how they can improve their methods for next year.

Verweij also said she wanted to thank the team’s sponsors. Without them, Verweij said participation in the event would not have been possible.