2016 Rules and Events

Competition General Rules

Updated 11/20/15

On Competition Day there will be three competition events: two Pool Events and one Poster Presentation.  All events will comprise three classes: Middle School, High School, and Open class, with each class competing in two in-water events and the Poster Presentation.

For each of the classes, trophies will be awarded for the first three finishers in each pool event. Also, trophies will be awarded for the top three finishers in the poster presentation competition in each of the three classes.

Only two team members are allowed on the pool deck during a competition.

All team members must wear shoes with rubber soles on the pool deck.

Each SeaPerch ROV must be presented for a compliance check during check-in on Friday night, or on Saturday morning and approved by a judge prior the team competing in the pool events.

In the event that a vehicle is inadvertently interfered with during a competition, or a malfunction of a vehicle's parts (i.e., the motor) occurs that is beyond the design and construction, the lead pool judge will have the sole authority to provide the team time to fix their vehicle and to allow them to compete later in the round. Malfunctions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The 12V power system will be available for all that wish to use it. It is designed to work with the alligator clips in the SeaPerch kit. Each lane will have its own power connection.

Vehicle Design Rules

Teams are encouraged to think outside the box and change the shape and configuration of the SeaPerch ROV.

Stock Class (High School and Middle School)

Vehicles shall consist of the parts and components contained within the equivalent of one SeaPerch kit, with the following exceptions:

    • Teams have a budget of $20.00 to modify the SeaPerch. It is the actual value of the modifications that must be $20 or less. Donated material should be assessed at what the cost would be to procure the material. The $20 limit is for costs of the materials utilized on the final competition vehicle.  Reasonable spare parts are not included in this budget.

    • 3D printed parts will be costed out at $0.05 per gram.

    • All motors must be waterproofed.

    • Hooks and attachments MAY NOT be added/removed depending on the competition round.

    • Additional motors may be utilized for actuation or other non-propulsion uses. Motors may be found at Jameco P/N 232022.

    • Teams may only utilize stock SeaPerch motors in thrusters (Jameco P/N 232022).

    • Teams may not add additional thrusters to the SeaPerch.  A thruster is defined as a means of propulsion for the SeaPerch, normally but not limited to a motor and propeller assembly.

    • Teams will design for and utilize a 12-volt power source.

    • ROV controlers shall use simple switches only, no power conditioning or PWM controls are allowed in Stock Class.  Use of a fixed resistor to reduce voltage is acceptable.

    • The ROV may be worked upon by the teams during the competition

    • The vehicle cannot be dragged via the tether.

    • ROVs shall fit thru an 18" hoop

Open Class

Vehicles should consist of the parts and components utilized within the SeaPerch kit to the maximum extent possible and shall be subject to the following:

  • Teams have no budget limit. (Budgets should be tracked for presentation to Judges during poster presentation)

  • Hooks and attachments MAY NOT added/removed depending on the competition round.

  • Teams may only utilize stock SeaPerch motors in thrusters (Jameco P/N 232022). 

  • Teams will design for and utilize a 12-volt power source. A 10-Amp Max fuse shall be used for safety.

  • The vehicle may be reset by the teams during the competition

  • The vehicle cannot be dragged via the tether.

  • ROVs shall fit thru an 18" hoop

Challenges and Disputes

Sportsmanship is expected at all times. Should a protest or dispute occur during the competition it is the intent to resolve the grievance at the time it occurs, and the ruling by the Head Judge shall be final.

A team that wishes to have an issue considered shall send the student team captain and one additional student member (2) to the lead judge with the inquiry or question. The lead judge will make the decision on the issue, and this decision is final. The same issue may not be brought to the judge a second time by any member of the team. Adults may not approach the lead judge on the pool deck regarding any perceived issues.

Teams may not question the legality of other competing vehicles; it is the Head Judge's role to determine if vehicles meet the entry and compliance requirements.

Unsportsmanlike conduct is grounds for the disqualification of a team. Team members and advisors are responsible for the conduct of all members and adults accompanying the team.


Individual Events

Each event will be scored in accordance with its published Rubric. Scores for each event will then be ranked from 1st-?? for both their class and overall stock.

Combined Scores

Each teams rank in the individual Events will be added together and then ranked in order to determine overall Class Winner and overall Stock Winner

Here is the simplified scoring sheet used at nationals:


Breaking Ties

Scoring ties will only be broken where trophy places require. (i.e. ties will not be boken when ties do not effect top 3 results in any event or class overall)

Obstacle Course ties to the 100th of a second will be broken by the faster time in the secondary run.

Challenge ties to the 100th of a second to the same point total will be broken by rerunning a portion of the course. The winner will have 1/100th of a second removed from their time, breaking the tie.

Class Ties will be broken based upon the best performance in the following priority:

1) Challenge

2) Poster

3) Obstacle

Any other ties not covered by this will be broken by a team of well trained monkies with darts.

Competition Events

Obstacle Course UPDATED

An underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) must be able to maneuver successfully under its own power. If a vehicle cannot maneuver to the appropriate location to perform its task, the vehicle is of no use.
The submerged obstacle course involves large rings (18" minimum diameter), oriented in any direction, through which the vehicles must travel. Teams must navigate through the obstacle course, surface, then re-submerge and return through the course to the end. Consideration of optimal maneuverability, control and speed should be given when constructing your SeaPerch (thruster placement and orientation, tether attachment, buoyancy and ballast, etc) and control box. Scores for this round will be based on the fastest time for successfully navigating the obstacle course.


There are five (5) -18" diameter hoops in the obstacle course.


Obstacle Course Rubric            Obstacle Course Rules

Click the image below for OLD course information.

Obstacle Course


While many roles for ROVs require power, most require the ability to Collect and control samples and items in the water.

This 2015 National Challenge task will require students to release objects and transport them in a controled manner.

The course consists of three stations in which the vehicles will have to maneuver and actuate equipment in the pool. The max pool depth for this event is 7'

Scoring: Max points in the shortest amount of time.  The clock stops when the team identifies they are done, surfaces and touches the wall with the vehicle.  Teams may stop the clock at any time, but it will not be restarted. Teams must inform the judges at the time if they wish to stop the clock and lock in their scoring.


Who dosn't love gumballs? Well we do! So do SeaPerches.

There will be 4 dispensers with different sized balls in each. The balls in three dispensers are Wiffle balls of various sizes float and are released up to the surface. The fourth dispenser will house real golfballs and they sink.

There will be three different sized Wiffle balls to be released, golf ball (1.68"), baseball (2.86"), and softball (3.82") The ones used for nationals can be found here: The Connecticut Store

The golf balls (1.68") used for nationals can be found here: GolfBall King

Each released wiffle ball can then be brought to either a pen on the surface or to a submerged container. More points will be given to placing the balls into the submerged container.

The golfballs will have to be herded into a scoring area on the floor of the pool. (more details to follow)

The "floating pen" will be a floating line on the surface of the pool 1 foot from thr wall. all balles will have to be within this area to be scored.

**The submerged container is still being reaserched, but will be no larger than a milkcrate. Depth of the container is also being determined.

**Golf ball scoring areas are also under development.

****Solidworks Files will be available soon.

Plans and assembly drawings for the challenge

PDF icon All Assemblies

REMEMBER: While the details of the Nationals course are provided, a "true to plan" device is not needed to gain proficiency. Determine what actions and skills will be needed this year and make practice devices to hone theese skills.

 Ball Release

Poster and Presentation Judging

The 2015 National SeaPerch Challenge again brings the opportunity for SeaPerch competitors to share their learning, building, and science understanding through poster displays and presentations. This year, all teams will compete in Poster Display judging. The top teams in the poster display portion will be offered the opportunity to present in-person to a panel of judges. Scores for the poster displays and for the presentations will be added to each team’s total points.


Please read the following carefully as your team plans for the National SeaPerch Challenge.


Poster Displays


  1. Poster displays shall be put up at each team’s table no later than Saturday at 8:30 am.
  2. The poster must be solely a product of the students' own efforts, ideas, and designs.
  3. The maximum poster size is 48” x 36”.
  4. Posters must be free standing on the table.
  5. Any items for display in addition to the poster must sit in front of the poster and take up no more space than a 3’ x3’ area on the table.
  6. No electronic components for poster displays are allowed.
  7. Posters will be judged beginning at 4:00 pm on Friday. No students, teachers, or parents will be allowed within 10 feet of their table when their poster is being judged.
  8. Posters will be judged according to the 2015 Poster Display Rubric.

 Poster Display Rubric

Poster Presentations


  1. The eight top scoring teams in each class [Middle School Stock, High School Stock, and Open] will be invited to present their posters in-person to a panel of judges on Saturday.
  2. These 24 high-scoring teams will find their team names displayed at 11:00 am on Saturday morning at the check-in table.
  3. Each team will be scheduled a time to meet with a panel of judges on Saturday. Presentation times may begin as early as 12:00 pm and will be placed around each team’s scheduled competition times, though additional time prior or after a competition cannot be guaranteed.
  4. The poster and presentation must be solely a product of the students' own efforts, ideas, and designs.
  5. Team members will be given ten minutes to present followed by a five-minute question / answer period.
  6. Students will use their poster and materials to discuss the learning, engineering concepts, and analysis to the judges.
  7. Presentations are to be made by the students. No electronic components for presentations allowed.
  8. After 10 minutes, the judges will have 5 minutes to question the students.
  9. Each team member in the room should be prepared to answer questions from the judges.
  10. Only team members will be allowed in the room with the judges.
  11. Presentations will be judged according to the Presentation Rubric.

Poster Presentation Rubric

Rules Blog

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