Student science project gets boost with $20,000 grant

HARLINGEN — It’s a go.

HCISD Robotics Community Service Team can now proceed with plans to launch a scientific vessel that will gather data throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

The Ford Motor Company announced this week it would award $20,000 to support the project, said Paul Tenison, technology instructor at Harlingen High School.

“I think that Ford made an excellent choice of selecting the team as the first place winner of this grant,” he said. “The kids have worked hard on the project. They are in it for the right reasons. They are truly concerned about the environment and this will make a difference.”

Ford awarded $50,000 to innovative student teams in the nationwide Ford STEAM High School Community Challenge. Other schools around the country received grants of $10,000 and $5,000. The HCISD Community Service Team, composed of four students each from Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School South and Early College High School, came in first place.

The money will be used to equip a 14-foot robotic sailboat in the team’s WAVE (Worldwide Automated Vessel Exploration) project.

The money will be used to purchase motors, a beacon and other items for the boat, which is scheduled to launch in October about eight miles off the coast.

“It should go north and around Louisiana, then around Florida, by Cuba, down toward the Yucatan and then circle back,” Tenison said. “It will be a registered beaconing vessel and it will gather water samples for plastic particulates. It will collect data about temperature and barometric pressure that will be sent back to our schools.”

The vessel will be in operation for about three months once it is launched.