The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland is set to expose junior high students to the exciting world of remotely operated vehicles (ROV).
On March 20, MI will hold a Marine Advanced Technology Education Centre (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle Scout competition for junior high students. The event takes place at the Marine Institute Flume Tank and will see schools from the Eastern School District competing for top prize.
Shawn Skinner, minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development will be in attendance and will provide remarks on behalf of the provincial government.
MI has hosted the provincial high school ROV competition each spring since 2006, but this is the first junior high contest to take place at the Marine Institute.
“Whenever you get something that is different, something that is exciting and something that gets the kids involved, students will want to be a part of that,” said Dwight Howse, head of MI’s School of Ocean Technology. “Teachers also pursue these opportunities for their students. This enables their students to be really engaged in a project.”
Junior high students will construct a remotely operated vehicle that is able to execute specified tasks in the Marine Institute's Flume Tank as defined by the Marine Advanced Technology Centre in Monterey, California. The event is very similar to the high school competition hosted by MI, but with a few minor differences.
“The scope of the competition is a little simpler than the high school event. They don’t have to be as precise in their movements or their construction. We’re giving them a lot of support in terms of cameras, monitors, thrusters and other equipment,” Mr. Howse said.
From a student’s perspective, there are several advantages to taking part in the competition at the junior high level, according to Howse. At the very least, it will allow students to gain valuable experience before they enter the high school ROV competition.
“They can walk into the high school event with a little more expertise than the normally would have had,” said Mr. Howse.
Howse adds the experience gained by the junior high students could result in advanced ROV designs and operations in future high school events.
“We might see high school teams come in with ROVs that are a bit more sophisticated, reliable and faster,” said Mr. Howse.
For the Marine Institute, the junior high event is a way to showcase its ROV program, as well as MI facilities such as the Flume Tank.
“It’s a matter of getting the students interested in the oceans, science and technology,” said Mr. Howse. “We want to make sure they view these things as potential career paths.”
Mr. Howse said because this is the first year for the junior high event, not every school that displayed an interest in attending could take part in the March 20 competition. However, he is confident more schools will be able to enter in the future.
“A number of schools inquired about the event, which makes us think we’ll have to do it again next year and open it up to schools right across the province.”
Schools taking part in the event include Mount Pearl Intermediate, Mount Pearl; St. Paul’s Junior High, St. John’s; Beaconsfield Junior High, St. John’s; Pearce Academy, Burin; Clarenville Intermediate, Clarenville; St. Mark’s School, King’s Cove; Holy Trinity High, Torbay; Holy Redeemer, Spaniard’s Bay.
This junior high ROV competition is supported through the Youth Innovation Program established by the Department of Innovation Trade and Rural Development.