Fifth-graders are invited to participate in the annual Coast Day essay contest by answering the writing prompt "How would you plan a robotics mission to discover new things about Delaware's land, water, and air?"
Students are surrounded by opportunities for learning and discovery about Delaware's terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments - in the classroom, in the library, online, through University of Delaware resources and every time they go outside.
In keeping with this year's Coast Day theme, discoveries on land, in the air and at sea, students are encouraged to consider the technology UD scientists use to make discoveries, and how they would use robotics to explore Delaware.
Contest winners will be recognized at Coast Day, to be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 1, on the University of Delaware's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Bookstore gift cards in the amounts of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded for first through third place, with honorable mention recognized. Teachers of winning students will receive gift cards toward classroom materials.
Coast Day is the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and Delaware Sea Grant's premier celebration of the sea, and it attracts thousands of attendees every year. Participants can wander through tents featuring educational exhibits, tour research vessels, sample the region's best seafood and develop a deeper appreciation for the sea and marine stewardship.
TEACH FLEET model ships will return to Coast Day this year. The Lego ships include small tugboats, large oil tankers and every size vessel in between. New this year, fleet designer and builder Wilbert McKinley will display a model of UD's research vessel, the R/V Hugh R. Sharp, a project sponsored by Delaware Municipal Electric Corp.
The Robotic Discovery Laboratories will also be open for a special exhibit. Visitors will see gliders, autonomous underwater vehicles and other advanced robots that UD researchers use to explore shark habitats and recover lost World War II planes, among other projects.
"We are excited to have the community back on campus for Coast Day after a two-year hiatus due to weather and then building renovations. Nowhere else in Delaware can families connect with researchers, ships and environmental education more than at Coast Day," said Chris Petrone, marine education specialist with Delaware Sea Grant. "Asking students to plan a robotic discovery mission somewhere in Delaware through the essay contest engages them in the process of science and aligns well with the Next Generation Science Standards."
Essay submissions are limited to 400 words. Entries must be postmarked or hand-delivered by close of business Friday, Sept. 15.
Entries can be mailed or delivered to: Coast Day Essay Contest/Delaware Sea Grant - Marine Advisory Service, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes, DE 19958.
For complete rules and guidelines, go to www.decoastday.udel.edu/contests.