By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — All three Ellicott School District SeaPerch teams recorded a top-5 finish at the Challenger Colorado Regional Competition in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Saturday.
The high school team earned a second place finish in the obstacle course, while the middle school boys and girls teams finished third and fourth overall, respectively. The boys finished first in the obstacle course and third in the engineering challenge, while the girls finished fourth in both categories. Eight high school teams and 24 middle school teams competed.
In all, 22 Ellicott students competed at the event.
Karin Pacot, Ellicott Elementary School teacher and SeaPerch adviser, said the kids really came together to prepare for the competition.
“In the beginning, everybody gets to try whatever [skill] they want,” she said. “As we figure out who’s really good at what skill, then we look at the competition. We want to win.”
The SeaPerch program is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and “provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science and mathematics while building an underwater remotely operated vehicle as part of a science and engineering technology curriculum,” according to seaperch.org.
The competition comprises three parts, an obstacle course, an engineering challenge and a discussion with the judges.
Pacot said the team had to overcome an additional disadvantage at last year’s competition because the water was so choppy they were unable to get a clear view of their ROV during the engineering challenge.
“You’re really going in there hoping for the best,” she said. “Hoping your equipment works and that you can see.”
To prepare for the competition, the teams have been practicing in the pool at Tierra Vista Community Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. TVC allowed Ellicott to use the pool as part of the continuing relationship between the installation and the local community.
“Many of our residents have children who attend school in the Ellicott School District, and we’re happy to share our facilities with the young athletes,” said Jerry Schmitz, regional general manager and senior vice president for Tierra Vista Communities.
“We worked with them to update the baseball facilities on campus, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Ellicott however we can in the future.”
In offering thanks for the use of facilities Pacot said, “The relationship between the district and Schriever Air Force Base is really a benefit for a lot of kids. We’re super thankful.”
SeaPerch is just one of the tools the district uses to help students learn about, and take an interest in, activities involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“It is a great program to be involved in because it shows the importance of teamwork and gets you involved in STEM and building electronics,” said Tiffany Ferriman, high school team member. “I learned how to solder my first year and now I’m one of the best on the team. [You’re also] learning how mechanics work.”
Pacot added the SeaPerch curriculum also gives students an opportunity to build on some of the abstract concepts they may not be able to fully develop in the classroom.
“It’s the teamwork, the leadership, learning problem solving, learning not to give up, the list goes on and on,” she said.