Wednesday is More Than a Weekday, It’s Parker’s Award-Winning ROV

By Upper School Science teacher Elizabeth Druger
Parker’s ROV team Subaquatic Solutions competed this weekend in the regional MATE ROV Competition, an annual underwater robotics (aka remotely operated vehicle or ROV) challenge that engages a global community of learners, at Hoffman Estates High School. This year, the MATE ROV Competition is highlighting the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and inspiring the global community to embrace environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts to create a sustainable future on our ocean planet. The competition is challenging its community to design and build an ROV and the necessary sensors and tooling to support work to combat climate change, provide clean energy, feed our growing global population, monitor ocean health, preserve our maritime history and “deliver, together, the ocean we need for the future we want!”

Saturday’s 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. Parker’s team earned 1st place in the Engineering Presentation and 4th place overall.
On Monday, the team gave a Morning Ex presentation to the community outlining the construction of the ROV and the work they completed to create a working underwater robot.

The ROV—named Wednesday—has as its primary goal to promote ocean health and sustainable practices for the future. Wednesday is a robot that has a frame made of pink acrylic (an ode to the iconic line from Mean Girls: “On Wednesdays we wear pink”), which the team laser-cut to optimize a lightweight design and include handlebars to carry the ROV in and out of the pool.

The team began constructing the ROV in September and created it from “scratch” without the help of kits. The students developed several different prototypes before landing on the final design. Wednesday has four thrusters, two of which help her move up and down, two of which help her move vertically and horizontally. Each thruster is carefully placed so there is no turbulent interference between thrusters in the water, and her buoyancy was calculated with weights placed on either side so she doesn’t stay on the surface or sink to the bottom of the pool—the ROV is neutrally buoyant. In addition to the thrusters, Wednesday features three cameras. Inspired by female anglerfish, these cameras are attached to a wire coming from the main robot and sit a couple of inches off the robot, ensuring optimal viewing of both the bottom of the pool and the surroundings. This allows Wednesday to complete tasks in various areas of the pool, such as completing flyovers or aiding the grippers in picking up parts of sea nets. The two grippers are angled perpendicular to each other at the front of the ROV to easily capture and carry PVC pipes.

The team is looking forward to another great season and will begin meeting again on Wednesdays starting in September.

Click here to view photos and enjoy the video recap.

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.