STEM Genius and SeaPerch Michigan Regional Underwater Robotics Tournament

nteractive displays and exhibits filled the Charles Remus Natatorium at Cass Technical High School, showcasing the talent of Detroit's best and brightest students in the first-time STEM Genius and SeaPerch Michigan Regional Underwater Robotics Tournament on March 15, 2013.

It was all part of an effort to bolster kids' interest in the science, technology, engineering and math – or "STEM" – fields that are critical to Detroit's future.

A rigorous contest for teens

The event hosted 10 teams – nine from Cass Technical High School and one middle school team from University Preparatory Academy – in a competition that tested students' skills in developing, building and operating underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles, or ROVs.

In order to participate, students navigated a rigorous application process that included essay writing and teacher references. Once selected, a volunteer mentor helped youth bring their imaginations to life over the course of four months.

The winning team from Cass Tech included Jordyn Morgan, Devin Moses, Dasia Dawson, Andrea White and Anthony Hamm. The first-place team from University Preparatory Academy consisted of Christina Giles, Humza Rahman and Danielle Clark.


The 2013 SeaPerch Challenge takes place in Indianapolis, Ind., in May. Both teams, sponsored by STEM Genius, will take their award-winning ROVs to this national competition, but there is still a great deal of preparation going in to it, according to Yul Allen, founder of the STEM Genius program, which is based right here metro Detroit.

The mission of STEM Genius

The STEM Genius program targets children from kindergarten to 12th grade. It encourages hands-on, project-based learning that utilizes green technology, too.

Allen, a native Detroiter, founded the organization to help students realize their potential.

"They have to have the right fuse – and, if you can light that fuse, they will soar," Allen said.

With this first-of-its-kind competition in Michigan, Allen credits the tenacity of Cass Tech High School principal Lisa Phillips in bringing the program to her school. "It's really great to work with individuals who have vision," Allen said.

STEM design competitions, while new to Michigan, are part of a broader campaign created by President Obama called "Educate to Innovate" to improve student participation in science, technology, engineering and math.

The campaign focuses on combining the efforts of the federal government, leading companies, foundations, nonprofit organizations and science and engineering societies to work with young people across America to excel in science and math.

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