PANAMA CITY - For the third year in a row, two Poplar Springs High School students took home a championship trophy from the annual SeaPerch Regional Competition.

The competition was held Friday at Gulf Coast State College. SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips and encourages student teams to build remotely operated vehicles. Students use basic SeaPerch robotics kits, but are also allowed to spend up to $20 in outside enhancements to their robot.

Poplar Springs High School (PSHS) students Joseph Godwin and Bryson Potts walked away with the overall winner championship trophy. The duo is the only team to ever win the regional tournament. The SeaPerch regional competition is a preliminary qualifier that opens the door to an international competition. The boys faced over 70 other teams in Panama City, and took home first place. This summer, they will be featured on the international stage at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

The PSHS robotics program is spearheaded by sponsor and mentor Trey Paul who has grown to powerhouse level in the robotics and STEM fields. In January, the program won first place in Robotics at the Florida Senior Beta State Convention in Orlando. Robotics has only been a featured category at the state convention level for two years, and both first place wins have been brought back to Poplar Springs High School. With that win, the team will be traveling to Savannah, Georgia this summer to compete at the national convention.

At most schools with a program, especially a successful one, robotics has its own class period during the school day. PSHS does not have that luxury. However, the countless weekend, holiday, and after-school hours put in by the students and their sponsor have made its robotics students successful.

The learning opportunities offered through programs like SeaPerch and other school-based robotics programs, are preparing PSHS students for futures in engineering, computer science, hands-on vocational programs, and more. In addition to the variety of technical and creative troubleshooting skills the students are gaining, they are learning first-hand that a willingness to listen, learn, and give it their all, is the key to success.