Sixty-six teams competed at the 2024 SeaPerch Challenge, held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Aquatic Center. Photo by Kyle Dollarhite.
Category: Features

Arkansas 4-H, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas host 2024 SeaPerch Challenge

A record number of students participated in the 2024 Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge, held March 1 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The annual underwater robotics competition welcomed teams from 12 Arkansas counties and one Mississippi county to put their submersible robots to the test.

Arkansas 4-H and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas host the competition, which began in 2016. Since then, the program has grown to 66 teams with 241 participating students.

Brad McGinley, Grant County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and director of the Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge, said, “It’s a unique, hands-on project that I think many youth find fun and challenging.”

Rob Roedel, senior director of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, said, “We have worked to spread the great learning opportunities that SeaPerch provides to the youth of Arkansas. Our team is actively working with schools and 4-H groups to provide assistance in purchasing kits and sponsoring the program.”

Participants used more than three dozen parts to design and build their remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, including pieces of pool noodles, electrical tape, 12-volt motors, PVC pipe and 3D printed parts. Teams then steered their ROVs through an underwater obstacle course and mission course, which was designed to mimic deep-sea exploration.

The overall winning senior, junior, open and wild card teams will compete at the International SeaPerch Challenge May 31-June 1 at the University of Maryland.

Remembering Hope

McGinley said it was important for the event to honor Hope Bragg, former extension instructor in 4-H youth development for the Division of Agriculture, who directed the SeaPerch program last year. On the underwater mission course, “Hope” was stamped on a door in signature 4-H green.

Bragg, her husband Don, and their children Kenny, 22, and Elizabeth,19, were killed in a house explosion in Michigan on Dec. 30, 2023. The same blast injured their son, Stephen, 16, and Hope’s father, Richard Pruden, 72.

McGinley said, “Anyone who knew Hope knew her passion for science, teaching youth and lifelong learning. We wanted to make sure she was honored and remembered for the impact she had on the 4-H program and the lives of youth across the state.”

The Arkansas 4-H Foundation established the Bragg Family Memorial Scholarship Fund. To learn more about the scholarship, visit