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Hoosier Teams Score Big at National SeaPerch Challenge
Updated June 12, 2015 7:58 AM
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(UNDATED) - More than 500 students on 140 teams from across the United States and Puerto Rico competed at the National SeaPerch Challenge at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on May 30.

Students participated in an obstacle challenge, a finesse challenge and a poster presentation to showcase their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills to over 50 volunteers and Navy officials.

Indiana SeaPerch was represented by eight teams from area schools and took home high honors during the competition, including a national championship. Participants used remotely operated vehicles (ROV) to compete in either the stock division or the open division.

In the open division, students were allowed to spend unlimited funds to enhance their ROVs, while in the stock division they were limited to a $20 price cap.

Bloomfield Senior High's Aquatic Stereotype team is the new national champion of the open division and also placed second in the finesse challenge, third in the poster judging contest and fourth in the obstacle course. Eric Moody, project manager at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division's (NSWC Crane) Applied Science and Demand Management Department, has mentored students in Bloomfield's SeaPerch program for six years. He explained that Aquatic Stereotype has 14 years of combined experience with two members who were attending the national challenge for the third time, and said that experience combined with an underwater camera and spotlight that allows the team so see underwater challenges clearly gave them an edge over the competition.

Aquatic Stereotype is made up of four team members-- Allen Burris, Wyatt Hasler, Chance Hunter and Kelsey Moody. Although they did not place first in any individual events during the national challenge, their overall score was one point higher than the team that placed below them.

"We learned that some teams focused on speed and agility of the ROV, which helped them get through the obstacle course challenge quicker," Moody explained. "While our team's design started out smaller and faster, we decided stability of the ROV and the ability to make small movements were more important attributes to be successful in the finesse challenge. Not only did the design perform well in both of the underwater competition events, the team also performed well in the poster judging and with their presentation. This proved to our team that even though you may not win a battle, you can still win the war!"

In the middle school stock division, Springs Valley Middle School's Taylor Made placed second in the finesse challenge and third overall in the national challenge.

Newburgh's St. John the Baptist School's Hoosiers by Sea team won second place in the obstacle challenge and the Cyber Squids, from University Elementary, won the Quality Award from Kelly Cooper at the Office of Naval Research. The Quality Award was based upon the team's ability to showcase improvement in their ROV design as the team progressed through the SeaPerch season. St. John the Baptist School's Hoosiers by Land team also competed in the national challenge.

In the high school stock division, Ye Olde SeaPerch team from Bloomington South placed third in the finesse challenge. Springs Valley High School's SeaHawks and Reitz Memorial High School's Tiger Sharks competed in the national challenge, as well.

"I think Indiana's continued success at SeaPerch Nationals is indicative of what can happen when professionals from Crane take an interest in our community," explained NSWC Crane's STEM Director Tina Closser.

NSWC Crane's STEM program was recognized as one of Indiana's technology success stories in early May when TechPoint, Indiana's technology growth initiative, presented Closser with the award for Tech Educator of the Year at its annual Mira Awards gala in downtown Indianapolis. Since the inception of the STEM program, NSWC Crane and its personnel have served over 8,000 students, 100 teachers and 100 schools.

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