Pupils from All Saints Catholic High School victorious in Subsea UK’s STEM Challenge

A team of pupils from All Saints Catholic High School in Sheffield have been crowned champions of the Subsea UK 2019 STEM Challenge, which saw five teams from across the UK compete to design an ROV to collect plastic from the sea.

The STEM challenge, led and organised by Subsea UK and supported by the Smallpeice trust, saw more than 50 teams of secondary school students compete in regional heats to earn their place in the final.

The winners from each regional heat; Cantell School (Southampton), Plymouth High School for Girls, All Saints Catholic High School (Sheffield), Royal Grammar School (Newcastle) and Williamwood High School (Glasgow), travelled to Subsea 7 in Aberdeen this week to take part in the final.

The subsea design challenge saw the teams design and programme ROVs using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit, an integrated platform that enables the development of programmable robots using Lego building blocks.

In the final, the teams were faced with an environmental incident where plastic barrels had fallen into the sea and they were tasked with designing an ROV and using sensors, grabbers and beacons to gather the barrels as quickly as possible.

The teams then had to test their design and present their findings to a panel of judges, which included representatives from Subsea UK and Subsea 7. Points were awarded on a number of criteria including teamwork, understanding of the subsea industry, number of barrels collected, time taken to collect barrels and the quality of the design.

Now in its second year, the STEM Challenge has been developed to encourage pupils to study STEM subjects and consider a career in the UK’s £7.5bn subsea sector. This year’s challenge was sponsored by OPITO, Subsea 7, Saab Seaeye, SMD, Weir Group and Fugro.

Trish Banks, operations manager at Subsea UK, said: “This year’s STEM challenge has been fantastic, and every team that has taken part has shown a real enthusiasm for engineering and learning more about the subsea sector. I want to congratulate the team from All Saints Catholic High School on their winning design.

“This year we chose the topical theme of removing plastics from the sea, and with this we wanted to highlight to the next generation the breadth of challenges which subsea engineering can tackle. I want to thank everyone who has taken part in this year’s challenge and our sponsors who have helped make the 2019 STEM Challenge such a huge success.”

Maeve Burrell, a pupil on the winning team from All Saints Catholic High School, said: “Taking part in the Subsea UK STEM challenge has been exciting and I have really enjoyed it. The event has made me think about my future and how I could take the skills I have now and develop them into a career, potentially within the subsea industry.”

The winning team, All Saints High School, with Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon and operations manager, Trish Banks.

The winning team, All Saints High School, with Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon and operations manager, Trish Banks.

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