Last week, close to 450 elementary and middle school children packed into the Lehi Legacy Center swimming pool in Utah for a heated competition. But this wasn’t your everyday swim meet; this was the arena for an all-out underwater robot extravaganza.
For the second year in a row, BYU’s Splash Lab hosted the Utah Underwater Robotics Competition featuring students from 15 Utah schools and their man-made underwater robots. The robots were designed to navigate through underwater obstacle courses and provided a great opportunity for the kids to put their STEM skills to the test.
The competition is the culmination of the Utah Underwater Robotics program that is responsible for teaching school kids valuable STEM concepts through the mentoring of BYU students. The program has nearly doubled in size from last year’s class of 280 students. The competition itself is one of the largest in the nation and feeds directly into the national SeaPerch program.
Programs like these are not only fun to participate in—not to mention designing, building and controlling a fully functioning underwater robot—but also provide a great environment for students to develop and demonstrate their STEM skills. Because of the relatively fast growth of the program, organizers hope that it will serve as a potential model for future STEM initiatives at the state level.
BYU professor of mechanical engineering Tadd Truscott, who helps direct the program, told the Meridian Magazine that the competition shows that kids are capable of accomplishing amazing things, even at an early age and at an early stage in their education. “If you give kids a bucket of sticks, it’s possible they might build a tower taller than an engineer,” said Truscott.
It’s great to see that there are lots of opportunities and programs out there for kids to get involved in at an early age and develop an interest in STEM. Our blog at Dream It Do It has tons of stories about new programs to teach people of all ages about the benefits of having STEM skills.
And the cool part about these programs is that they’re not boring lectures about train A and train B arriving at different times—they’re hands on experiences with real life products and applications.
Who wouldn’t want to build their own robot to drive around in a swimming pool? So give your local STEM program a chance and see for yourself why skills and opportunities like these shouldn’t be missed!
Photo credit: Meridian Magazine