Each Saturday, about 30 students come to Martin Luther King Jr. School in Atlantic City, New Jersey, attracted by the sport of science with underwater robots.

Soft Skills“Some them are already here by the time we get here, and then they don’t want to go home,” said Principal Jodi Burroughs.

The attraction is the National Sea Perch Program, which challenges teens to build an underwater robot that completes specific tasks. The students in third through eighth grade who participate are having fun coming to school on Saturday.

The teams are preparing for regional competitions that determine who will go to the national competition at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Sea Perch program, sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research has about 100,000 students participating. The program is managed by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation.

According to Burroughs, the MLK program began five years ago to bring STEM into the school. Underwater robot research was introduced, and given a great deal of support from Stockton University professor Tara Luke and her students.

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