U.S. Navy and Houston CSTEM host underwater-robotics competition

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Story Number: NNS140218-05Release Date: 2/18/2014 11:19:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jacob L. Dillon, Navy Recruiting District Houston Public Affairs

PEARLAND, Texas (NNS) -- High school students from across southeast Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle battled for underwater superiority at the Houston Regional SeaPerch Challenge Feb. 15 at the Pearland Recreation Center in Pearland, Texas.

The Navy City Outreach office, in collaboration with Houston Communication, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CSTEM) organization hosted more than 350 students in the three-part event including a heist deep-water transfer, a speed-course obstacle course and a display/panel interview.

SeaPerch, an Office of Naval Research-sponsored program, is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting to promote interest in STEM related fields. SeaPerch rollout is a primary effort of the Navy's city outreach program which falls under the Navy Recruiting Command's diversity division, located in Millington, Tenn.

STEM programs are important to the future of the Navy said Lt. Cmdr. Jaye Jones, a Navy City Outreach Officer for Navy Recruiting Command.

"These participants are the future of the Navy," Jones said. "We are making sure we protect that future. Today's Navy demands greater high-tech skills and men and women with strong math and science backgrounds. Through the Navy city outreach program and these types of collaborative efforts, we build stronger STEM foundations for tomorrow."

SeaPerch could not be possible without the continued support and collaboration from Houston CSTEM, community volunteers, local schools and academic leaders and local organizations said Jones.

"With the collaboration with Houston CSTEM, we can reach kids in the third through eleventh grades and get them focused on STEM programs at age nine," Jones said.

CSTEM is an organization to inspire the next generation of innovators and thought leaders by engaging young men and women in exciting hands-on projects solving real-world problems to encourage entry into the talent pipeline, bolster self-confidence, and foster a well-rounded mastery of the areas of communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Valerie Leverett, a program coordinator for Houston CSTEM, said the Navy partnership in crucial in developing STEM programs in schools.

"STEM programs present distinct, intellectual and real challenges focused on critical thinking," Leverett said. "Working with the Navy, we found a like-minded organization placing an emphasis on our shared goals of promoting STEM."

The SeaPerch event was also about planting intellectual seeds in the minds of the participants, said Kim Nielsen, a coach for Pearland's Wilder Elementary School's Ruler of the Seas team.

"SeaPerch has taught our kids to learn the basics in logical thinking, engineering, mechanics and electrical work," Nielsen said. "These kids are super excited; this is an opportunity outside of school to feed these interests and to better their future."

Because there are no naval bases near the metropolitan area of Houston, many students are unaware of the opportunities to utilize the STEM skills they learn in the classroom and apply them in the Navy, said Cmdr. Oudrey Hervey, the commanding officer of Navy Recruiting District Houston.

"We [NRD Houston] are out here to raise awareness of the Navy's SeaPerch program but to also raise awareness of unique opportunities and experiences in the Navy," Hervey said. "Events like this allow us to go out into our communities and mentor and support the intellectual development of students who will be the future of the Navy, the U.S. and the world."

In the end, only the top-10 teams were able to advance to the National SeaPerch competition in Hattiesburg, Miss., in May. But the two big winners were the Passmore Elementary School SeaPals and the Alvin Junior High Aquabots, both from Alvin, Texas. These two teams tied for first place in the overall competition. Because of this, each school received a fully-funded trip to the finals courtesy of the TechStreet Houston organization.

For information about SeaPerch visit: http://www.seaperch.org/index

For information about CSTEM visit: http://www.cstem.org/

For more information about Navy Recruiting District Houston visit: http://www.cnrc.navy.mil/houston/default.htm

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For more news from Naval Recruiting District Houston, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrdh/.

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