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New level added to robot competition

The Bermuda Regional Remotely Operated Vehicle Challenge teaches young people about the world’s oceans, and the importance of preserving them (Photograph supplied)

A new level of competition has been added to the 2017 MATE Bermuda Regional Remotely Operated Vehicle Challenge.

The school event, which will be held at the National Sports Centre on Saturday, will feature the ranger class for the first time.

“This is the first year we run the ranger class for Bermuda and it is a high level of competition,” Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences science educator Kaitlin Baird, who co-ordinates the programme, said.

“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.”

Twenty-five teams from 12 Bermuda schools and educational organisations are set to take part in the challenge, which teaches young people about the world’s oceans, and the importance of preserving them.

They will set the robotic vehicles they have built in collaboration with instructors on a variety of missions.

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

For beginner students, this year’s theme is Bermudian-based, focusing on navigating through a reproduction of 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”.

According to Ms Baird, the challenge reflects the commitment of BIOS to using underwater vehicles to understand complex ocean processes. Building ROVs fosters critical thinking skills, enhances individual and group problem solving skills, and boosts technological fluency, she said, adding that it also supports education goals associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, known as the Stem fields.

The programme, hosted by BIOS, is part of the Mid Atlantic Robotics in Education Programme. Marine has again partnered with the Marine Advanced Technology Education centre to host the regional challenge.

Lead donor support will be provided by HSBC, which has partnered with BIOS for the past three years in support of the Marine Programme and the ROV Challenge.

“We believe that the competition is an exciting way to teach our young people about Stem subjects,” Christopher Brown, head of Financial Crime Compliance for HSBC and spokesman for the BIOS partnership, said. “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.”

And Orange Bay Company will be donating pizza lunch the day of the competition.

The event starts at 9am and is free and open to the public. In case of inclement weather, it will be postponed to Sunday.

For more information, contact Kaitlin Baird at kaitlin.baird@bios.edu