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Oil Spill Cleanup Robotics Contest | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Oil Spill Cleanup Robotics Contest

Competitors arrived at 5 p.m. and learned what the contest was about.  They had until 6:30 p.m. to design and put together their robot for the contest.  During their experiment time, they could test the course.

This is what they were given:

A terrible oil spill has happened this summer in the Gulf of Mexico.  Robots are being used to assist in the cleanup.  You must decide how your robot is going to improve the situation.  You will have 2 runs during the contest.  You can practice run before the contest. You have 5 minutes maximum for each run.

  1. Swap containment cap: Remove cap from pipe and replace it with another one. (10 points, for removal of the first cap and 20 more points, for placing the other cap on it.
  2. Move berms off the shore and into the ocean to try to prevent the oil from coming ashore. (5 points per berm that reaches the new goal.)
  3. Pick up tar balls from distant shore. (1 point per tar ball)
  4. Caution: avoid hitting the 2 oil skimmers. (robot dogs) (3 point deduction per hit)
  5. Avoid hitting the hydro fire oil boom (10 point deduction per hit)

As an added bonus, since this related to a real life scenario, each team could try for bonus points in Internet research. A laptop with Internet access was provided if they wanted to use it.

Bonus Questions (1 point each):

You may use the Internet to find answers to these questions.

  1. When did the oil spill begin?
  2. What is the name of the oil company that had the oil spill?
  3. Which of these challenges listed has a robot really been doing this weekend?
  4. How is a new containment cap supposed to help with oil spill cleanup?
  5. What do the berms do?
  6. What are tar balls, and where are they?
  7. What is the job of the oil skimmers?
  8. How has the Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, impacted oil spill cleanup?
  9. What is a species of animal impacted by the spill and how does it impacts them?
  10. What is a business or industry hurt by the oil spill and how?
  11. What does a hydro fire oil boom do?
  12. The largest maker of oil spill equipment in the U.S. is in Carmi, Illinois. What is its name?

I hoped the contest would help the participants better understand different problems and solutions with the oil spill, so they could better follow future updates on it. 

Our contest this year experimented with new features we had never seen tried.  We changed the judging with individual judging plus team judging.  We added an impromptu Internet research unit.

How did our changes work? That’s tomorrow’s blog.


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