PWCS fielding six underwater robotics teams to national championships
Posted on 03/20/2018
Student competitors at the 2018 Sea Perch event

The PWCS Aquatics Center was filled March 16 with teenagers and their families, but they weren’t swimming. Instead, the lanes were occupied by underwater robots controlled by students who were poolside. Student volunteer divers untangled the robots when needed, and set up the “targets” and challenges, including hoops and obstacles. The competing students were battling in a regional contest for a chance to test their robots at the national level.

Nearly 300 students on 95 school teams from Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park faced off in the PWCS Aquatics Center. Students maneuvered remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in underwater challenges, including obstacle courses and contests on recovery and collaboration. Building and designing ROVs incorporates engineering concepts, problem solving, and teamwork. In addition to meeting technical challenges in the pool, the students answered questions from the judges and presented their design and construction strategies.

Teams from Patriot and Forest Park High Schools qualified for a berth at the National SeaPerch Challenge in June at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. Patriot High will send five teams; Forest Park High will send one. Colgan High School, Patriot High School, and Stonewall Jackson High School each have one team wait-listed to attend.