Launched a year ago, the Navy League’s
STEM grant program is beginning to bear
fruit as participating councils use grant
money to launch or bolster science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
initiatives in their areas.
Since the first grant was awarded to the Madison,
Wis., Council, several councils in California have
received grants and organizers are hoping the program
will gain momentum as word gets out about initial
successes and more councils come onboard. The grants
are administered by the Navy League STEM Institute.
The program is intended to be a kick-starter, with
the council or a local donor matching, or exceeding,
the amount granted by STEM Institute. Typical
grant awards are $500, although requests for higher
amounts are considered.
Navy League National President Skip Witunski and
David Todd, a STEM educator in Portland, Ore., who
was then-vice president for Strategic Planning and
STEM and now is national president-elect, presented
the inaugural $500 grant to Madison Council member
Dave Sparks at the Naval STEM Exposition that kicked
off the 2016 Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
The Madison Council used the grant — along
with support from the council, Wisconsin State Navy
League STEM donations and contributions from
area businesses and community members — to help
two Richland Center High School teams make a trip
to compete in the National SeaPerch Challenge at
Louisiana State University in May 2016.
Madison received a second Navy League STEM
Institute grant for 2017, according to Herb Thomas, a
council member who also serves on the Navy League
STEM committee. The grant, along with the funding
from the Wisconsin Navy League, the Richland Center
Science Foundation, Richland County Bank, Symons
Recreation Complex and Pizza Hut, supported the
Southwest Wisconsin Regional High School SeaPerch
Challenge that was held March 3.
Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and
managed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles
International Foundation, SeaPerch is an underwater robotics program for middle- and high-school
students that equips teachers and students with the
resources to build an underwater Remotely Operated
Vehicle (ROV), according to the program website.
Since it was created by the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology SeaPerch Grant College Program in 2003,
more than 100,000 students have participated in the
SeaPerch program, as have more than 6,000 adult mentors. The program has been embraced by the U.S. Naval
Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC), with thousands of kits having
been distributed to units around the country.
Thirteen high-school teams took part in the
Southwest Wisconsin Regional competition at the
Symons Recreation Complex swimming pool on the
University of Wisconsin-Richland campus. Included in
the competition was an underwater obstacle course,
challenge course and engineering notebook presentation, said Thomas, who coordinated the event with
colleagues Alan Kromanaker and Ed Nowicki.
Five teams from Richland Center High School,
four from Kickapoo High School and two each from
Navy League Grants
Aim to Boost STEM Programs
BY PETER ATKINSON, DEPUTY EDITOR
A participant in the Southwest Wisconsin Regional High School
SeaPerch Challenge shows off his team’s SeaPerch Remotely Operated
Vehicle March 3. Thirteen high-school teams took part in the compe-
tition that was funded, in part, by a Navy League STEM grant received
by the Madison, Wis., Council.