Charter schools make mark at underwater robotic competition

-- Mountain Home School Charter correspondentMay 15, 2013 

For 18 Mountain Area home charter school students, this was the big day they were waiting for -- May 4 -- The 13th annual Monterey Bay Regional Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) contest held in Aptos. The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center at Monterey Peninsula College sponsors the annual underwater robotics contest for grades five to 12. For Mountain Home School Charter and Glacier High School Charter, this was the fifth year participating in the 50-team event.

Mountain Home School Charter's Team Hurley finished first in the Rookie division for it's poster and finished ninth overall. The school's Ocean Command and C Cubed teams finished fourth and fifth in the Veterans division. respectively.

Glacier Charter's Ranger division team won the Guts and Glory award.

The MATE Center uses underwater robots as a way to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math and to help them see the practical applications of these subjects. According to Glacier teacher Matthew Englund, "Students get the benefit of seeing development of a project from an initial seed ... This form of project-based learning directly integrates physical, chemical, biological, engineering and electronic principles."

First timer Glacier High student Steven Woods said he got involved in this program because he had been interested in robots and this was one way to be involved with them.

"I wanted something I would be building and programming on a higher level," Woods said.

Students had to design and build from scratch an ROV that could retrieve and deploy new scientific instruments, take temperature readings and reconnect hubs among other tasks.

"The hardest part in preparing for the competition was building the ROV in the little time we had after we were told what the mission would be," said Glacier student Kristopher Harkin.

Mountain Home and Glacier High students competed in two different classes of vehicles. The "Scout" class is made up of middle school and some high school teams. The "Ranger" class is mostly high school students with more complex missions requirements.

Those teams were:

Scout Teams (6th and 7th graders):

C Cubed - veteran team

1. Callen Moon

2. Clayton Moon

3. Connor Wallace

Ocean Command - veteran team

1. Emily Anderson

2. Connor Heidebrecht

3. Isaac Rumohr

Team Hurley - rookie team

1. Eben Hammond

2. Jonathan Trujillo

Ranger Teams - freshman:

Oceanic Dynamics Inc. from Oakhurst

1. Ed Firmalo

2. Kris Hawkins

3. Christian Mendoza

4. Walker Phillips

5. Justin Talley (7th grade)

Teachers included Hagen of Mountain Home School Charter and Matthew Englund of Glacier High School Charter.

"I was proud of all our teams," said Hagen. "I watched as students worked together to solve unexpected problems during the competition. I saw calm determination and confidence throughout the day. I smiled as I watched teams explain their ROV's design, features, and ability to accomplish the missions. Engineers asked careful questions of our students, checking for understanding of concepts ranging from buoyancy to circuitry. ."

In the end, two teams received special awards from the MATE competition. Scout Team Ocean Command received third place for "Design and Innovation." The Ranger team Ocean Dynamics, Inc. received the coveted "Guts and Glory" award for their unwavering perseverance throughout the competition. While facing many obstacles, Ocean Dynamics impressed the judges with their ability to not give up and more forward on solving each problem that they faced.

"It was great winning something after all the hard work," said second year Mountain Home School participant Isaac Rumohr.

"We would like to give thanks to the Oakhurst Kiwanis Club for their mini grant that allowed us to move our program forward" said Hagen.

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