Robotics dives into deep water

Colton Hurley


Staff Writer

Baldwin has used robots to explore the underwater world for the first time, through the Sea Perch program.
Middle school science teacher Debbie Reynolds and Jared Hoffman, the high school gifted coordinator, got the district involved with the program, which is run by the Navy and assisted by the Bettis engineering corporation.
Small teams worked on the underwater robots on Wednesdays after school. Each team consisted of four students who created a robot that would complete underwater tasks such as driving through hoops, retrieving balls, and drag racing.
“The program helps kids who are interested in the engineering field,” Hoffman said.
Some of the participants have been a part of building robots before, but water-proofing them was a new challenge. The Bettis Corporation sent five engineers every week to help the students, who built the robots from scratch, Hoffman said.
“We wrapped the motor in tape and toilet bowl wax, and then put it in a film canister,” junior Aaron Evangelista said.
Of the two high school teams, the one with Evangelista and freshmen James Luttringer, Cam Greenaway, and Angela Miller won a Feb. 4 preliminary competition, allowing them to move on to the Feb. 20 regional competition, along with the sole middle school team.
“We had a lot of practice time with the robot, so we did very well,” Evangelista said of the preliminary competition.
It was a different story at the regional competition, though. The high school team’s robot stopped working and lost, although it won most creative design.
The middle school team, meanwhile, won overall for the whole competition, and will be going on to compete in Louisiana.
The goal of the program, though, was simply to get students of all ages interested in the engineering and technology fields.
“I wanted to pursue this because I am very passionate about STEM, and I also think that our students need to be given as many opportunities as possible to explore careers and areas of interest,” Reynolds said.