UACES Facebook Two Arkansas 4-H teams to head to national SeaPerch Challenge in June
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Two Arkansas 4-H teams to head to national SeaPerch Challenge in June

By Christian Maddox
For the U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • Annual competition helps test applied science, technology, engineering and math skills
  • 15 Arkansas teams competed at state level, two going on to nationals

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Christian Maddox is an Arkansas high school student and 4-H member, working on assignment for the U of A System Division of Agriculture’s Communications Department.)

FERNDALE, Ark. — After 15 teams of Arkansas 4-H members from six counties across the state battled it out on sea, land and classroom at the 2018 Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge, two teams are headed to the international competition in Dartmouth, Massachusetts on June 1-3.

3-31-2018 Running
PRESENTATION — 4-H members run thier remote controlled submersibles as part of the SeaPerch competition March 31, 2018, at the Vines Center. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Angie Freel

The SeaPerch Challenge, developed and sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, aims to support the applications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula within the United States.

The state-level challenge was held March 31 at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center. Sheridan Junior High, a 4-H team from Grant County, will go on to compete in the open team competition in Dartmouth. JC Atlantis, a 4-H team from Johnson County, will compete as the junior team.

The Sherdan Junior High team is coached by Brad McGinley, Grant County Cooperative Extension Service staff chair, and Ann Massey, Grant County’s administrative specialist. Team members include Haley Parrish, Mason Paxton, Samuel Spann, Cole Sullivan, and Anna Ellison.

The JC Atlantis team is coached by Scott Loving, a research field technician for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Fruit Research Station in Clarksville, and Jeanie Rowbotham, Johnson County 4-H agent.

Lori Canada, 4-H Development Coordinator for the Division of Agriculture, said the state-level competition in March seemed to go relatively smoothly for all involved, win or lose.

“The kids here today gained great experiences and took away a ton of knowledge from this competition,” Canada said. She said she hoped to continue bringing increasing amounts of STEM-focused activities to Arkansas 4-H.

Prior to the competition, each team worked together to craft a fully functioning robot that can float, collect items, and travel efficiently underwater. The teams then tested their inventions and made changes to the design to improve speed and durability.

During the pool competition, the machines are tested through two parts of the challenge: an obstacle course, followed by a transportation challenge.

For the obstacle course, each team’s robot traveled through a series of rings from the start of the course back to the beginning. Powered by a battery pack, the robots were navigated through the rings by one person, while another teammate was responsible for rolling out or rolling in more rope for the robot to travel the course fully.

At the end of the course, the robot must travel back through the rings to get back to the starting point. The teams had about 10 minutes or so to do the course, and the faster it completed the course, the better.

For the challenge course, teams used their robots to pick up rings or boxes on one platform and take them over to another platform to earn points. Similar to the obstacle course, one teammate was responsible for controlling the robot, while the other was keeping track of the cord to make sure it doesn’t get tangled. Teams had about 10 minutes to get as many objects to the other platform as possible.

Finally, at the third part of the challenge, judges were given the engineering journals of every team to understand the construction of the robot, its characteristics and functions, and other details about it. In addition, judges evaluated the robot and asked a variety of questions about the robot such as “What changes did you make to your design?” and “What was your favorite thing about constructing this robot?”

“My favorite part was getting to add oil to the gears of the robot,” said Jessy Quiroz of the Sheridan Intermediate 4-H Team 2.

To learn about Arkansas 4-H, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


By Christian Maddox
For the U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Ryan McGeeney
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2120

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