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Stockbridge Robotics Students Heading Back to Palau

Stockbridge Robotics Students Heading Back to Palau

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Mar 20, 2014

Exactly one week from today, the Stockbridge High School Underwater Robotics Team will leave Mid-Michigan for their third trip to Palau. We've been following the robotics team since its first mission to the South Pacific island in 2012.

Not only are the students excited, but the robotics team is a point of pride for both the high school and the local community. The team's Go Fund Me account had a donation goal of $20,000. The community has donated nearly all of that.

From a new robot built from scratch: "We shrinked the frame down a little to give it a little more power to move through the water easier," said Jeremy Spink, a Junior.

To local and national sponsors: "Go Pro is sending a film crew to go with us this year, to help provide technical assistance to the students using the Go Pro cameras," said Robert Richards, Robotics Teacher.

And two trips of trial and error under their belts: "We do the briefings. We pilot the robot. We do the debriefings," said Chloe Hypes, a Junior. "We had to fix the robot seven miles out," said Spink.

The Stockbridge Advanced Underwater Robotics students are ready to head to the island of Palau for the third time to scour the ocean floor for missing warplanes. "It's very important for the whole team to bring home missing service members to their families," said Hypes. The students have been searching for a B-24 bomber with 8 missing crew members that was shot down during World War Two. They haven't found it yet, but did find a Marine Corps Corsair aircraft and a Japanese war plane, and in the process developed quite a fan club in Palau.

"Everybody knows they're the robot team from Michigan. They're the only American teenagers running around the country, so they get recognized right away," said Richards. It's recognition that students from a land-locked, small town never thought they'd find out on the water half way around the world. "It makes you feel really accomplished. You know the old saying you can do anything or do anything you want to do, and we're in the middle of Stockbridge, and we're going to Palau to do stuff, so it's just really great," said Spink.

The team leaves on Thursday, March 27th, one week from today. On the way back they're stopping in Pearl Harbor and presenting to the joint MIA and POW command there. They already have a trip set up to go to Palau again next year. They've also had offers to go to Key Largo and to Lake Huron to explore shipwrecks. We'll be following the team throughout their trips and will keep you updated on what they find.