Navy Junior ROTC cadets at Smithfield-Selma High School have dove into a new project.
In May, they will host their first Sea Perch competition at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. Cadets from Clayton High School will join them.
Sea Perch is an underwater robotics program made possible by a grant from Wake Electric Membership Corp. The grant dollars purchased kits supplied by the Office of Naval Research.
Sea Perch incorporates science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, in a hands-on way. Cadets build the robots, incorporate design modifications, test them and ultimately compete in Sea Perch competitions in a fun, competitive environment. In the process, cadets learn about leadership and teamwork.
“Cadets learn best with hands-on projects,” said Capt. Craig Whitaker, senior naval science instructor at Smithfield-Selma High School.
“Sea Perch exposes students to science and engineering topics in a fun and competitive way,” he added. “Learning is interactive, and the objective is to cultivate an interest in science and engineering. This is especially important today if the U.S. is to maintain its lead in engineering programs in the future.”
For Smithfield-Selma Cadet Orion Baylor, Sea Perch is just plain fun. “I absolutely love Sea Perch,” he said. “We’re building our robots now, and I can’t wait to test dive it and compete against other JROTC schools.”
In the future, Smithfield-Selma plans to expand the program to include students outside of the Navy Junior ROTC program.