A team of pupils from Northgate High School in Norwich have been crowned champions of the Subsea UK 2020 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Challenge, which saw six teams from across the UK compete to design an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) to solve an environmental incident.
The STEM challenge, led and organised by Subsea UK and supported by the Smallpeice trust, saw 60 teams of secondary school students compete in regional heats to earn their place in the final.
The winners from each regional heat; St Damian’s RC Science College, Manchester; St Mary’s Catholic School, Port of Blyth; Northgate High School, Norwich; Hyndland Secondary School, Glasgow; Millburn Academy, Inverness and Bristol Free School, traveled to P&J Live in Aberdeen to take part in the final.
The subsea challenge saw the teams design and programme ROVs using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit, an integrated platform that enables the development of programmable robots using Lego building blocks. An intelligent brick computer operates the system, including modular sensors and motors, with Lego Technic sections to construct the automated systems.
During the regional competitions, teams were asked to design and build an ROV which would survey a marine habitat to determine the accumulated levels of plastic. In the final, teams had to design and build an ROV with additional capability to retrieve the plastic.
The teams then had to test their design and present their findings to a panel of judges, which included representatives from Subsea UK and industry sponsors, BP and TechnipFMC.
Judges assessed the teams throughout the day and points were awarded for teamwork, design and manoeuvrability of their model, marketing material and the final delivery of their sales and marketing pitch.
Now in its third year, the STEM Challenge has been developed to encourage pupils to study STEM subjects and consider a career in the UK’s £7.8 billion subsea sector.
Trish Banks, operations manager at Subsea UK, said: “We set the annual STEM Challenge as inspiration for pupils to learn more about the career possibilities which exist in engineering and the subsea industry. Witnessing the ingenuity, ambition and enthusiasm shown by all pupils taking part in this year’s STEM challenge has been tremendous, and I want to congratulate the team from Northgate High School on their winning design.
“This year we chose the topical theme of removing plastics from the sea as we want the next generation to understand the breadth of challenges which subsea engineering can tackle. I want to thank everyone who has taken part in this year’s challenge and our sponsors who have helped make the 2020 STEM Challenge such a huge success.”
Maddison Fleming (14), a pupil on the winning team from Northgate High School, said: “The STEM challenge has been a really exciting experience and it made me realise that I can do more than I thought possible. It was a really fun challenge, and everybody has been absolutely amazing, from the organisers to the sponsors. I am incredibly proud to be a part of Northgate High School.”