Shelby Swims to Success

By Upper School Science teacher Elizabeth Druger
This past weekend, the Parker ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicles or Underwater Robotics) team took their ROV to the MATE ROV Competition hosted by the Shedd Aquarium. The competition consisted of three main judging areas: Product Demonstration—ROV performs tasks in the pool to score points; Marketing Display—poster describing the attributes of both the team and the ROV; and Engineering Presentation—students present the engineering and design of the ROV to a panel of scientists. The team scored significant points in each area and won the regional competition.

The MATE ROV Competition is an underwater robotics (aka remotely operated vehicle or ROV) challenge that engages a global community of learners each year. This year, the competition challenged students to tackle problems that impact the entire world: plastics clogging our rivers, lakes, waterways and ocean from the surface to the bottom of the Mariana Trench; climate change raising ocean temperatures, affecting the health of coral reefs; and contaminants in our waterways. These scenarios exist from Pennsylvania to Portugal, Florida to Australia, the Western Pacific to the Mid-Atlantic, Indianapolis to Indonesia—and event just a few blocks away in Lake Michigan.

The team began work on their ROV in the middle of April when the Upper School returned to in-person learning. In roughly six weeks (despite some electrical setbacks), the team developed a fully functioning ROV, built a marketing display and created an engineering presentation. The team named the ROV “Shelby”—playing off the words “she’ll be” (alluding to a mostly female team) and “shall be”—meaning the team shall be ready by competition time. With great effort, the ROV “Shelby” swam to success, and the students are looking forward to a possible visit to the international competition in August.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.