An intrepid, intelligent group of Saucon Valley Middle School students recently returned from their first international robotics competition.
The team called “Team Mishipeshu” (“mishipeshu” being a mythical “underwater panther”) placed 15th overall out of 96 teams who traveled from as far away as New Zealand to participate in the 2019 Seaperch Challenge at the University of Maryland.
The six members of the Saucon Valley team were eighth-graders Emily Chi, Josiah Lamirand, Teegan Lannon, Sonia Lloyd, Abigail Luftig and Katelyn Pequeno.
There were three categories for scoring in addition to the overall placement at Seaperch.
Saucon’s Team Mishipeshu achieved the following placements:
- Engineering Process Design: 7th place
- Obstacle Course: 20th place
- Mission Course: 42nd place
- Overall Competition Place: 15th
The Saucon Valley team advanced to the international Seaperch Challenge after winning a regional competition–at which they placed first or second in every category–at Temple University in March, beating 24 other Pennsylvania teams in the process.
In total,, there were more than 1,500 school teams from 86 regions involved in the 2019 SeaPerch Competition that culminated with the competition last weekend.
SeaPerch is a national underwater robotics program designed through a collaborative partnership between the U.S. Navy and MIT.
The program provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science and mathematics (STEM) while building an underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) as part of a science and engineering technology curriculum.
This was Saucon Valley Middle School’s second year participating in this program and they were the only Lehigh Valley school that competed in it this year.
In total, the Saucon Valley Middle School robotics club has about 25 members.
To date funding for the program has come entirely from private enterprise in the Lehigh Valley, although parent and supporter Eric Luftig noted that the Saucon Valley School Board has discussed establishing and supporting programs next year across the district.
“We are working with the SVSD to get robotics programming in place across all schools,” he said. “Our hope is for the district to institutionalize these programs and make them part of their STEM curriculum at all grade levels.”
Sponsorships and in-kind support for this year’s program were provided by a number of companies, including Victaulic, AlertBOT, Demco Automation, IdealConcepts, Capital Blue, Lamprey Systems, St. Luke’s University Health Network, BBraun, Quadrant Private Wealth, First Generation, Integra, InfoGenius, Adams Plumbing, Barry Isett & Associates, J&J Luxury Transportation and the Marriott Courtyard in Bethlehem.