Teams from Cayman Brac’s Layman E. Scott High School took first and second places in both middle- and high-school divisions of this year’s Minds Inspired SeaPerch Challenge held at Camana Bay Sports Complex pool on Saturday 12 March. Overall champions were middle school students Jovier Walton- Paz and Jaden Ebanks with their team the “Brac Bots.”

Six schools entered 24 teams in the Cayman Islands branch of the international competition where students design, build and operate underwater remote-operated vehicles (ROVs). Teams had to complete an obstacle course, racing the clock to navigate their robots through a series of underwater hoops, and a mission course that challenged teams to manoeuvre objects and conduct tasks with their robots.

The high school division was won by “Pirates of the Sea,” Layman Scott’s all-girl team of Mikayla Bryan, Aracely Matute and Raeann Matute-Scott, who smashed the record for the obstacle course producing a time of 39 seconds and almost halving Cayman’s previous fastest time.  

This year’s award for innovation and design was won by Cayman International School team “Holy Roman Cheeses” for its unique cheese wedge shape. Teams design and build their robots using kits purchased by Minds Inspired from SeaPerch International and supplied to schools free of charge. Each kit includes PVC piping, motors and a remote control; teams can supplement materials up to a value of $25.

With nine teams new to the competition this year, the Rookie Award went to Layman E. Scott’s “Brac Cruisers”, while Triple C School’s “The Ladies” team won the Team Spirit Award.

“The SeaPerch Challenge tests the students’ engineering and technical knowledge in the design phase, but teamwork, problem-solving and the ability to focus under pressure are what’s important on competition day,” said Glenda McTaggart, Dart’s senior manager of education programmes, who runs the event. “SeaPerch is designed to introduce students to careers in marine engineering and naval architecture, but it also teaches real-life skills that can apply to any profession.”

As part of Minds Inspired’s programme to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics to young people in the Cayman Islands, Dart has organised the SeaPerch Challenge in Cayman for seven years. The event is also sponsored by the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, the Women’s International Shipping & Trade Association and London & Amsterdam Trust.

“The Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands (MACI) was proud to sponsor the SeaPerch Challenge, which showcases STEM skills with a focus on marine engineering,” said MACI’s Manager of Human Resources and Administration Kayla Martin. “This established and innovative event brings awareness to the diversified possibilities of STEM careers within the maritime industry here in the Cayman Islands, including naval architecture, nautical studies, marine survey and marine engineering.

“MACI believes in the importance of education and helping young people build careers in the maritime sector, especially given Cayman’s strong maritime history. MACI, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, offers a unique scholarship opportunity to dynamic Caymanians who wish to pursue a successful career in the maritime industry.”

The winning team, “Brac Bots,” is now eligible to compete in the International SeaPerch Challenge held in Maryland, USA, in June.