Friday, April 27, 2018

Girl Scouts win first place in ROV competition

Six Girl Scout teens took home the first place title at the Mid-Atlantic Regional ROV Underwater Robotics Competition on Saturday, April 21.

The annual event enables students from several states to learn more about STEM and apply that knowledge to create underwater robots. This year, groups were tasked with building a robot that can find the wreckage of an airplane, install equipment to monitor earthquakes and complete a renewable energy project. 

While the competition’s theme and mission changes from year to year, this year’s theme highlighted the role the robots play in the Pacific Northwest since the international competition will take place near Seattle.

“The Unsinkable Girl Scouts” formed their team to function like a company, according to the group’s CEO and Systems Engineer Kaylee Keegan. The team included: CFO Natalia Barber from Troop 643, COO Elizabeth Keegan, Research and Development Engineer Beth Bolyard, Marketing Specialist Alex Dicken from Troop 662 and Safety Manager Madison Smith from Troop 662.

With the help of two mentors, Maeanna Stover and Rick Dyer, the girls assembled their ROV, R.O.S.A. (remote operated submersible apparatus) which was made of PVC pipes and pool noodles.

 Together, the girls overcame several obstacles, including learning how to fix a broken switch on their control box on their vehicle.

“We did run into a few problems very close to the competition,” Kaylee said. “Luckily it was an easy fix and we were able to replace the switch.”

Time, knowledge and travel distance also tested the girls’ ability to work together in order to take home the winning title.

“A lot of other groups participating have clubs at their school, so it is easy for them to work in class or every day after school on their ROV. These students also learn the information needed to participate within their classes. For us, we have members from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach who have some to no background in engineering, and the distance limited us to one or two time every weekend which put us at a disadvantage,” Kaylee explained.

Communication, extensive planning and lessons from their mentors enabled the girls to assemble their robot in enough time to compete.

Judges scored the girls’ vehicle project in several categories: product demonstration, presentation, marketing display, company spec, corporate responsibility and safety.

The girls were up against three other groups in their division, “Scout.” The Unsinkable Girl Scouts’ product demonstration blew the competition out of the water with a score of 95! The team of Girl Scouts also ranked the highest in presentation. In total, the girls gathered 211 points.

Over 160,000 Girl Scouts participate in STEM programs annually. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, by participating in STEM related activities, girls become more positive about the field and want to learn more about STEM careers.

Kaylee said her team felt pretty empowered by winning first place because the competition was largely dominated by males.

Throughout the competition, the girls learned new skills and even expanded their knowledge of STEM. Way to go, G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™!