Students Prepare for Regional Robotics Competition

RoboGuppies Team Members construct a prop that simulates a coral reef to use in practice with the ROV.

AXTON, VA (March 9, 2020) – Carlisle School has a new Underwater Robotics program called “Chief Robotics.” The program consists of three competitive team levels for students in 3rd through 12th grade and has 38 members. 

The “RoboGuppies” team is the most novice level. This team is composed of 3rd and 4th graders. The next competitive level is the “Aqua Pups” team, which has members from 5th to 8th grade. The most advanced team is “Dasyatis,” named for the Stingray Genus. This team is primarily designated for high school students in grades 9th through 12th. 

Team Dasyatis at the 2019 MATE ROV World Championships.

Each team participates in the annual Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Regional Appalachian Highlands Underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Competition in Kingsport, TN. The focus is on the use of advanced engineering and design techniques to build and market prototype machines to solve real-world challenges.

This year the tournament’s official Request for Proposal requires students to develop solutions for the ubiquitous problems of plastic pollution in our oceans, catastrophic effects of climate change on coral reefs, and maintaining healthy waterways. 

To prepare for the May 9th competition, the students are diligently working in specialized groups of structural engineering, electrical engineering, and marketing strategies to design prototype ROVs that will be able to accomplish a series of tasks. At the competition, each completed job will earn the team additional points.

Tasks include removing plastic pollution debris, analyzing the health of coral reefs, removing coral fragments from a nursery structure, replanting coral into a reef, collecting samples of sponge species for pharmaceutical research, collecting and determining contaminants in sediment samples, and removing and replacing eel traps.

Team Dasyatis at a 2019 competition.

Anika Banerjee, a sophomore at Carlisle School, serves as the CEO for Team Dasyatis, and this will be her second year competing. She said, “I am so excited about our growing program this year. My favorite part of the expansion is being able to mentor the younger teams because it is a truly special thing to be able to watch them grow and learn to watch them become leaders inside and outside of the robotics program. Last season, Dasyatis made it to the MATE World Championships as a 5-man team due to our perseverance and overall chemistry. Through robotics, I have made friends that will last me a lifetime, and I cannot wait to see what this season will bring to our school and to the new Chief Robotics program.”

Each team is required to act as a legitimate entrepreneurship and is responsible for acquiring all of the necessary materials and monetary contributions needed to fund their projects. In January, the students hosted a sponsorship presentation event at Carlisle in which they showcased their preliminary prototype designs, structural and electrical component schematics, and budget analysis goals.

Dasyatis Team Member Casey Richardson programs an Arduino, an open-source electronic prototyping platform that enables users to create interactive electronic objects.

The entire Chief Robotics program, including all three competitive teams, is looking to raise a total of $7,875 this season to cover material, competition, and travel costs. To date, they have raised $5,500 of that amount.

Sponsors can contribute by making checks payable to Carlisle School attention Chief Robotics or by using the PayIt link found on the Carlisle School website at https://carlisleschool.org/robotics.

“I could not be more proud of these students for their hard work nor this program for its invaluable array of applications,” said Christy Richardson, Carlisle’s Robotics Program Coach. “The hands-on skills and real-world experience in which the students have the opportunity to participate throughout the entire process cannot be matched.”

About Carlisle School:

Carlisle School is an independent college preparatory school that provides a positive, safe environment for academic excellence and character development while embracing diversity and preparing our students to become leaders as citizens in a global society.