SeaPerch Challenge teaches youth STEM skills

via University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Research & Extension

By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts

  • Youth learn STEM skills through SeaPerch underwater robotics competition
  • 2020 SeaPerch competition sees record number of participants
  • Competition simulates waterway clean-up with tasks like debris removal

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 LITTLE ROCK — Youth from across Arkansas will showcase their STEM skills at the 2020 Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge, an underwater robotics competition where youth put their engineering, problem solving, teamwork and technical skills to the test.

IN THE WATER — Teams operate their submersibles during the 2019 SeaPerch Regional Competition in Bryant, Arkansas. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Lori Canada) 

More than 160 youths are signed up to compete in this year’s event on March 6 at The Center at Bishop Park in Bryant. Forty-three teams from 16 counties will vie for a chance to advance to the international competition in May at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.

“We have had an increasing number of teams interested in this year’s competition, and it looks to be another great turnout,” said Lori Canada, 4-H development coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “This is a rapidly growing program for us.”

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas sponsors SeaPerch Challenge with Arkansas 4-H, the youth development program of the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the Division of Agriculture.

“Arkansas’ electric cooperatives are dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the youth in all areas of our great state,” said Rob Roedel, director of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Our partnership with Arkansas 4-H has grown and will continue to expand the Arkansas SeaPerch program. The electric cooperatives are committed to supporting STEM-based learning opportunities for future leaders.”

 Before the competition, each team builds its own Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). On competition day, teams maneuver their ROVs through an underwater obstacle course and complete challenges, scoring points for completion of tasks. This year’s mission, which simulates a waterway clean-up, is inspired by real-life circumstances where ROVs can assist with clean-up efforts, such as floating garbage patches and submerged explosives.

 “The SeaPerch Challenge helps youth learn the engineering process and experience hands-on learning through the construction and alterations of their ROV for competition,” Canada said. “They then apply these skills to connect learning to technology used in various career fields.”

 Participating teams are from Arkansas, Carroll, Craighead, Crittenden, Garland, Grant, Howard, Lawrence, Madison, Miller, Montgomery, Newton, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph and Saline counties.

 Spectators are welcome.

To learn more about the SeaPerch initiative, visit

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

About the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

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 Media Contact: Tracy Courage

Director of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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