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WaterBotics overhead
The summer WaterBotics program at High School North has been a hit with students.

Aug. 12, 2019-- During the past two weeks, High School North has hosted a WaterBotics summer program for approximately 40 students each week.

But what is WaterBotics, anyway? It's an underwater robotics curriculum and program being disseminated to four regions of the United States through a National Science Foundation grant, in collaboration with national and state partners. In addition to NSF, the program at HSN is made possible through the Stevens Institute of Technology and with support from the district.

The goal of WaterBotics is to provide hands-on experiences with engineering design, information technology tools, and science concepts for middle and high school aged students. It also aims to increase awareness and interest in engineering and IT careers.

"Waterbotics is a program that Toms River Regional Schools makes available to every seventh-grade student regardless of their level, classification or gender," said Sylvia Piznik, a science teacher at Intermediate East who co-directs the program with teacher Jessica Kurtz. "All they have to do is want to engineer and have fun ... and be willing to get up early in the summer!"

And why under water? As recent headlines have shown, engineers are increasingly called upon to deal with complex, non-traditional, and previously unforeseen challenges. The underwater environment of the WaterBotics program gives students a sense of both the known and unknown challenges that real engineers face every day.

Some of the missions implemented by Piznik and Kurtz included rescuing a distressed swimmer, figure 8s, water polo tournaments, and Minesweep. The two weekly sessions were a huge success.

"They did an outstanding job all around," said Kurtz. "We were very proud of the group of students that participated this year."

WaterBotics is a continuum of the district’s efforts to advance students’ skills in coding and computer programming, and aligns with other grant-funded programs such as TR:TechReady and CS4TR.