The Mayport Middle team pose for pictures at the city commission meeting.

Mayport Middle snags another international robotics championship, sets world record

June 27, 2024 – Congratulations to the Mayport Middle School Sharks Robotics Club, who earned international bragging rights after setting a new world record at the annual International SeaPerch Challenge’s underwater robotics competition.

Sixth grade student, Emily Olson’s team won the international title for the middle school open class.

“I tell people I won an international competition, and they kind of look at me like is she telling the truth,” said Olson. “It’s really cool to be in sixth grade, and we’re doing replicas of real things that real robots are doing in the ocean.”

The school’s robotics club wrapped up its seventh year participating in the SeaPerch program winning 10 trophies. SeaPerch is a STEM education program that teaches fifth through 12th grade students real-world engineering and project design centered around building an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV). The competition requires students to move items underwater inside a pool within a certain amount of time using a robot they’ve designed from scratch.

Students display their underwater remote operated vehicle that led to their world championship at SeaPerch.

“One of the missions required us to pick up a temperature sensor in a 45-degree connector,” said seventh grader Daniel Keith Shelton. “Another required us to open and close doors and pick up rock samples and put them in a basket.”

This year, students traveled to Baltimore to the University of Maryland’s campus for the competition and faced off against students from other countries and states like Puerto Rico, China, and New Zealand.

Mayport students have become top performers, beating out 175 middle and high school teams from around the world within the last two years. Students say it took hundreds of hours of practice after school and during the weekend to help lead them to winning international awards.

“My team worked pretty hard over the year,” said Shelton. “It feels good to see all of your work paying off at the end because I felt pretty proud of myself when we got first place internationally.”

The city of Atlantic Beach, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Haskell Company, and The Player’s Championship all helped make the trip possible. This Monday, students showed up to the Atlantic Beach commissioners meeting to thank them for their support of their teams.

“This is showing them the future and showing what’s possible,” said Todd Caraway, the team’s coordinator. “You watch the struggles at the beginning in September, October, November. You see success through the rest of the year and really accomplishing things.”

Mayport has won at least 50 trophies and awards between regional and international competitions and the teams are already looking forward to next year.

“I’m hoping it’ll inspire others to try out the robotics,” said eighth grade student Darrell Shelton. “It improves our team building skills and improves development of robots.”

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