Oakboro Choice STEM team to compete in international robotics competition next month

Published 2:19 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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A group of Oakboro Choice STEM students will compete in an international robotics competition in mid-May in College Park, Maryland after recently winning a regional competition involving SeaPerch, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) the team built from scratch.

Oakboro sent four teams to the regional competition at UNC Charlotte March 31. They all competed in underwater challenges, Oakboro STEM coach Jennifer Crawford said.

The middle grades team of Noah Waits, Arabella Smith and Aubrey Porter qualified for the International SeaPerch Challenge Competition, which will take place May 13.

“Winning regionals was something that we could have never have imagined happening, our hard work finally paid off!” Porter said. “It was something that we had always hoped for.”

Smith noted that while she was “scared” about regionals, “it was great to win.”

The team is working to raise $3,200 to offset the costs associated with the travel, including registration and lodging. Donations can be made in person or mailed directly to Oakboro Choice STEM.

“I couldn’t be more proud of all that this SeaPerch team has accomplished,” Crawford said. “They have shown teamwork, perseverance and what it means to be an Oakboro STEM Scholar.”

“Noah, Aubrey and Arabella have also shown true leadership throughout the season as they acted as mentors to the younger teams as they were navigating the challenges of soldering and determining buoyancy,” she continued. “As a coach, I couldn’t have asked for more out of these Scholars. Team Aquanauts has more than earned their way to this International competition as they have laid the foundation for future teams to follow in their footsteps.”

Approximately 60 teams will be competing at UMD in a variety of divisions, Crawford said, including students from Kuwait, New Zealand and Egypt.

“SeaPerch Internationals will be exciting,” Waits said. “I look forward to the experience. It will be fun to meet others who have the same interests from across the country.”

“Yes, we want to come away with the win,” he added, “but I want to have the experiences that we will receive from it.”


About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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