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COE staff member mentors creation of rural high school robotics team

Metter High School Robotics Competition Team

Last summer, staff members of the Georgia Southern University Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEMe) participated in the summer MATE ROV Workshop with hopes of helping guide local schools in underwater robotics and encourage participation in MATE ROV Competitions.

Following the summer training, i2STEMe’s Mary Thaler paired with Metter High School (MHS) to launch their first Robotics Club in August 2020. The club met every Monday after school to learn circuitry, electrical and mechanical processes, and construction techniques building up to the creation of their own underwater robot. 

The regional MATE ROV competition is held each spring in Savannah, giving the MHS students just eight months to start from scratch to learn the basics of underwater robotics all the way to creating their own robot for competition on May 1. 

“Our members ranged in age from freshmen to juniors, and they worked well together,” explained Thaler. “Many of them were amazed when they realized what they were capable of doing–from wiring their own circuit boards to crafting and adjusting the control box for the robot.”

Six of the club members participated in the competition team, creating “Terry the Tiger,” their custom ROV complete with tiger stripes. With Thaler’s guidance, the team placed second in the regional competition.

“This is a brand new team that has been together less than a year, and they placed second behind a team that has historically won this competition several years running,” said Thaler. “Their scores were close to the first place team, and I was really proud of the students and their hard work.”

Mary Thaler (pictured right) observes student working on a circuit board.

Thanks to Thaler’s efforts at MHS, the school is implementing robotics into their science curriculum, adding a research component that can deepen the exploration of the STEM efforts. 

“This is an opportunity for students to have hands-on, place-based education and research opportunities that specifically examine our coastal ecosystems and marine life,” said Thaler. “I am excited to have been a part of the creation of this team and to mentor the first group of students during this experience. I hope we can continue to see schools in the region express an interest in expanding opportunities for their students with underwater robotics.”

For more information on how to partner with the College of Education’s i2STEMe, visit https://coe.georgiasouthern.edu/stem/

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Posted in Community Outreach & Partnership, Staff Highlights

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