Mon Valley YMCA program offers a chance for underwater adventure
Students will use their imaginations to transform household objects, such as plastic pipes and wire ties, into underwater robots in a new Mon Valley YMCA program.
The Mon Valley YMCA in Monongahela will this month debut a “SeaPerch” program, marketed to children in grades six through 12, said Vanessa Ewt, the YMCA's youth and teen intern who is leading the effort.
Students can move the robots with remote controls, adapting motions based upon the task they'd like the device to complete, such as “collecting rings, doing surveillance underwater,” Ewt said. They'll try out their robotic creations in the YMCA's swimming pool.
The YMCA is partnering with California University of Pennsylvania to host the activity, and it's designed to enhance students' skills in “STEM,” the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The initiative is sponsored by the United States Office of Naval Research.
“The Navy is the whole sponsor behind this because they noticed that we have all these jobs for engineering but no one to fill them,” Ewt said. “To train younger students to get them involved in STEM activities and get them interested in a fun way and hopefully that will lead them to go into that career.”
Ewt, a CalU student, built robots for competitions during her time at Ligonier Valley School District and the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.
After hearing about the SeaPerch program, CalU employee Mike Amrhein suggested the idea to Ewt. Amrhein said collaboration is part of his job as director of the university's Office of Integration and Outreach for Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and Science.
“I facilitate those kinds of relationships,” he said. “The university's totally committed to being a community partner, not just a place where kids go to get a degree.”
The program engages students in “hands-on, minds-on” learning, he said. Those types of experiences can help pique a student's interest in STEM careers.
“The young learners who participate in building the SeaPerch robot will gain knowledge and background in things like buoyancy and measuring, design of remote-operated vehicles,” Amrhein said. “They also do electric circuit operations and soldering and actually build the robots and use them underwater.”
Each SeaPerch robot is about the size of a computer monitor screen.
Students drill and solder the pieces together.
About 17 interested students attended a SeaPerch open house in January at the YMCA. The program will run for about eight weeks, and it costs $15 per student. Students do not need to be YMCA members to participate.
The program will begin Feb. 13 and will continue weekly on Thursdays.
Ewt said she hopes to continue the program in the future.
She encourages students to participate because there are no similar activities in the area with a STEM basis.
“Hopefully if the success of this program goes well, we can continue to not only do this program again but maybe continue into other STEM activities that are maybe possibly for younger kids,” she said.
Amrhein wants to grow the program across the region. If schools incorporated the program, he said, CalU could host a SeaPerch event at one of the university's swimming pools.
“Ultimately our goal is to have enough of the programs in the region so that CalU could then host a regional competition,” he said. “We'd love to do that.”
Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.