Bermudian Students to Gather for BIOS’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Challenge

Students in the 2016 competition set their robotic vehicles on a variety of missions set up in the pool, such as surveying and retrieving samples from a moon-like surface and collecting a coral sample from the deep sea. Photo by Alex Masters.

Twenty-five teams from 12 Bermuda schools and educational organizations will converge on the National Sports Centre on Saturday, April 22, for the 2017 MATE Bermuda Regional Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Challenge. The program, hosted by BIOS, is part of the Mid-Atlantic Robotics IN Education Program (MARINE), with lead donor support from HSBC.

Globally, HSBC focuses on supporting educational initiatives that promote learning about the natural environment. In Bermuda, HSBC has partnered with BIOS for the past three years in support of MARINE and the ROV Challenge, which teaches young people about the world's oceans, and the importance of preserving them.

“We believe that the competition is an exciting way to teach our young people about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects,” said Christopher Brown, Head of Financial Crime Compliance for HSBC, and the HSBC spokesperson for the BIOS partnership. “All participants will experience first-hand that not only can STEM be fun, but also how their contribution could be applied towards projects that can help us understand more about how to conserve our oceans for future generations.”

2nd place winners

The Aquarius team from Learning Express Academy won second place for the competition's Navigator class in 2016 (shown here with Christopher Brown of HSBC).

During the challenge, students will set the robotic vehicles they have built in collaboration with instructors on a variety of missions. Students compete at a variety of levels of difficulty, as designated by MATE: Beginner, Scout (Intermediate), and Ranger (Advanced Intermediate).  For beginner students, this year’s theme for the ROV piloting challenge is Bermuda-based, focusing on navigating through a reproduction of the island’s famed Harrington Sound to collect sea urchins and sea grasses. The theme for students competing at the Scout and Ranger levels will be “Port Cities of the Future: Commerce, Entertainment, Health and Safety.”

“This is the first year we run the Ranger class for Bermuda and it is a high level of competition,” said BIOS science educator Kaitlin Baird, who coordinates the program. “I am also excited that for the first time we will host in the competition Berkeley Institute, Dellwood Middle School, St. David’s Primary, Whitney Institute, and Bermuda College.”

Students will also earn points from judges based on a marketing poster and team interviews about their ROV.

The challenge reflects BIOS’s commitment to using underwater vehicles to understand complex ocean processes, Baird said. Building ROVs fosters critical thinking skills, enhances individual and group problem solving skills, and boosts technological fluency. It also supports education goals associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, known as the STEM fields. 

For the 2017 piloting challenge, MARINE will again partner with the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) center to host a regional challenge. Community support comes from the Orange Bay Company, a Bermuda consignment shop based in Hamilton, which is donating pizza lunch the day of the competition.

The event on April 22 begins at 9:00 am and is free and open to the public. In inclement weather, the event will be held on Sunday, April 23.  For more information, contact Kaitlin Baird at kaitlin.baird@bios.edu

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