Twelve middle school students traveled to Harford, CT on March 1-5 to compete in underwater ROV and drone competitions as part of Lexington's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiative. The students proudly displayed their team name, Perseverance, on their shirts to reflect how they dealt with the many challenges involved in preparing for the tournaments. Special thanks to Carol Kretschmer, Suhanthi Knower, Nour Ellakis, and Spencer Stelmach for coaching and chaperoning the teams throughout their STEM experience.
The underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) tournament involved guiding a robot through an underwater obstacle course to replicate underwater exploration. Students were given two attempts at the course with Navy divers from the Naval Submarine Base (New London) and staff from the Submarine Force Museum onsite for assistance.
The tournaments were sponsored by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf's (NTID) Regional STEM Center, housed at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB). The ROV tournament, a regional competition for the 2023 International Deaf/HH SeaPerch Challenge, was held at Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT. The competition included 21 middle schools and 19 high school teams, including 11 teams from schools for the Deaf. This was the second year for the competition.
The top team in each division advanced to the International Competition at the University of Maryland on May 13th. Congratulations to Alabama's team for winning the middle school division and the Ethel Walker School for taking the high school trophy.
On March 4th, the team attended the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation's drone competition in the gym at American School for the Deaf (ASD). The first time event for deaf and hard of hearing students included 37 teams, 14 high school and 23 middle school, from throughout the country.
The Aerial Drone Competition Mission 2023: Blackout wss played on a 24'x24' square field. In Piloting Teamwork Matches, two alliances--one red and one blue, made up of two teams each--competed in 2-minute pilot-operated matches. The object of Piloting Teamwork Matches in Mission 2023: Blackout is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by owning goals, scoring bonus balls, and ending the match on a landing pad or in the alliance blackout zone.
In Autonomous Flight Skills matches, a single team has 60 seconds of autonomous drone operation to score points by lifting off, navigating through arch and keyhole gates, removing balls from the starting lane, and ending the match on a landing pad or in the alliance blackout zone. All drone commands are pre-coded by the team, with no pilots allowed.
Additional activities for the students during the trip included visits to the Connecticut Science Center and Sparetime Entertainment Center. Members of Team Perseverance shared their experience will fellow middle schoolers at a special program on March 10th. Students and staff are looking forward to next year's competition.