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King Students Fundraising to Attend National STEM Competition

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King Students Fundraising to Attend National STEM Competition
Posted on 04/29/2016
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A group of King Middle School students has been selected to attend a national STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) competition at Louisiana State University in May involving underwater robots. The students have launched a fundraising campaign so they can pay for registration, airfare and room and board at the National SeaPerch Challenge May 20-21 in Baton Rogue, Louisiana.

The students competed in the 5th annual Northern New England SeaPerch Challenge early in April and have been selected as the Maine representatives to the national event. They and two chaperones plan to attend.

The SeaPerch Challenge welcomes students of middle school and high school age to participate in designing, building and demonstrating the capabilities of remote control underwater robots. The basis for the underwater robots comes from a kit designed by MIT and the Office of Naval Research, and are constructed using basic tools following a set of plans provided with the kits.

More than 175 teams across the country will compete in a juried poster competition and in-pool technical events with their SeaPerch ROVs. Students will also enjoy a “college experience,” with accommodations and meals on the university’s campus.

“The kids are more excited than ever to compete in the National Challenge,” said Pamela Porensky, King Middle School Windsor math teacher. “They have already started working on a new design for a SeaPerch Remote Operated Vehicle to take to nationals. The young people who are participating in this competition look forward to representing King Middle School, Portland and the entire state of Maine at the national level.”

In order to raise the money to go, students have created a GoFundMe page. The link is:


Donors who prefer to send a check should please make it payable to King Middle School- SeaPerch and send it to 92 Deering Avenue, Portland, ME 04102.

The students’ participation in the national competition is an outgrowth of a major STEM project King Middle School students took part in this past fall.

They built remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to determine if they might be a viable means of the early detection and mitigation of aquatic invasive plants. The ROVs students built were SeaPerch ROVs initially created by the MIT Sea Grant College Program to engage students in the STEM fields. The rovers were tested in pools, and multiple lake sites in Maine. After testing the remotely operated vehicles in pools and after various adjustments were made, the students participated in multiple trips to lakes in Maine to conduct underwater surveys of invasive species with these vehicles. The King students worked with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on this project.

The end result was a qualitative report, the first of its kind written by middle school students, which was given to the DEP, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the University of Southern Maine.