Students from seven area middle and high schools recently got together to compete in The Regional SeaPerch Competition where each team had to build an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicles) that they would have to use in several different events in order to win Thursday’s competition and advance to The National SeaPerch Competition. According to Regionals Chair, Margaret Spigner of West Ashley High School, the competition was started to help narrow down the number of teams that would advance to the National Competition.
“There aren’t enough spots in The National SeaPerch Competition for all of the teams in our area to have a spot to compete,” said Spigner. “So we started Regionals as a way to pick the two teams that could go to Nationals.”
Representatives from organizations such as SPAWAR, NOAA, Air Force Association, and STEM Center for Excellence, among others, were recruited as judges in the three-event competition. The first event was an Obstacle Course where students had to drive their underwater ROV through five 22-inch rings, surface, and then go back through the rings to the original starting point.
Then came the Finesse portion where each group’s underwater ROV had to maneuver through three different stations that “required students to perform multiple independent tasks that tested their ability to operate their SeaPerches with skill and precision. The last part of the competition was the Poster & Presentation Judging, where students created a poster that describes what went in to making their underwater ROV.
West Ashley High cleaned up at the competition. Each of the three teams that went to the Regional Competition placed. The WAHS NJROTC, under the leadership of Commander Robert Turner, was comprised of four NJROTC from the high school who volunteered to be on the team. They placed first in Finesse and second in the Obstacle Course portion.
Spigner took two teams to the competition — Investigative Research Team A and Team B — both made up of students from her Investigative Research Class. According to Spigner, she met with her students often before and after school at the pool at the Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club to prepare for competition.
The Investigative Research Team A took first Place in the Obstacle Course, first Place in Poster & Presentation Judging, and second Place in Finesse. Team B placed third in Poster & Presentation Judging, third in Finesse, and third in the Obstacle Course.
Serving as Regionals Chair and Team Leader for two groups made for a very busy day for Spigner. “I could not be more excited for my students and the fact that all of their hard work paid off. We cannot wait to compete in the National SeaPerch Challenge in Massachusetts!” WAHS’s Investigative Research Team A will compete in The National SeaPerch Competition at the Tripp Atlantic Center at the University of Massachusetts May 29-30.
“You can’t do something on a big scale like this without lots of help,” Spigner said. “You have to rely on a team to get things done. There are so many people I want to thank for helping make the Regional Competition happen.”

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