By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Middle school and high school students from the region are participating today and tomorrow in an underwater robotics competition at Drexel University.

(A member of a team from Lancaster, Pa. shows their underwater robotics device.  Photo by John McDevitt)

(A member of a team from Lancaster, Pa. shows their underwater robotics device. Photo by John McDevitt)

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At the tenth annual Greater Philadelphia Sea Perch Challenge, hundreds of spectators in the bleachers were cheering on their favorite competitors as they maneuvered their robots through obstacle courses and a simulated recovery mission conducted in an indoor pool at Drexel’s athletic center.

Each submersible is attached to a long cord, with one member of each team at the controls.

Among the competitors today were ten students from Stewart Middle School, in Norristown.

One female member of that team says it’s been a valuable experience.  “I learned a lot of terminology such as buoyancy and how it relates to density,” she said.

(Students from the Stewart Middle School, in Norristown, test their device in a practice pool.  Photo by John McDevitt)

(Students from the Stewart Middle School, in Norristown, test their device in a practice pool. Photo by John McDevitt)

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Sam Luccia, a tech ed teacher at Stewart, agrees.

“They learn a lot about science and math applications — real world applications — not only about the Navy, which sponsors the event, but also how things work together, hand-in-hand in the environment,” he said.

Teams are also judged in a poster presentation,  in which students convey their engineering ideas.