Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Education

Springstead High battles in the International Submarine Races

SPRING HILL — It was two weeks before the start of the 12th International Submarine Races, and the creators of Sub Zero were still looking to make a few refinements to their scratch-built craft before taking it for one of its last practice runs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The team members, all Springstead High School students, took turns tinkering with control cables, directional flaps and other mechanisms on the human-powered sub, making sure that everything worked well.

Steve Barton, a former instructor in the school's construction vocation program and an adviser to teen submariners for nearly 20 years, watched as they worked. But for the most part, he left the decisions on what to do up to them.

"They built the sub themselves and know everything about it better than I do," Barton said. "This is their boat and their race."

Since 1993, Barton and his wife, Pat, a guidance counselor at the school, have been the guiding force behind Springstead's sub team. By nurturing the students' enthusiasm for adventure and knowledge, they have watched the team build a solid reputation for success at the prestigious event, which is held every two years at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, Md.

Finally, in 2009, the team's single-person sub, Sublime, claimed the top prize — first place in best overall performance, as well as second place in absolute speed — leaving in its wake a list of competitors that included Virginia Tech, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Barton admits he takes special pride that his young team does so well against well-funded, experienced teams. Springstead will again be vying for top honors at the five-day competition, which starts Monday. The team will enter two crafts, the trusty Sublime, plus the newly completed two-person sub Sub Zero.

"We're all really excited to see how we do," said Springstead High junior Christine Jacquot, 17, a member of the 22-person crew taking part in the competition. "We've spent a lot of time getting things right and learning what we need to do to go faster. We're ready."

The races are run on a 100-meter course, 30 feet below the surface, in a half-mile-long indoor test tank facility. The "wet subs" operate fully immersed. Pilots use scuba gear to breathe while propelling the craft with a bicycle pedal-style gear apparatus that delivers power to the steel propeller. Top speeds can reach more than 7 knots, just shy of a full trot on land.

Springstead junior Damian Forbell, 17, one of the pilots, said the claustrophobic conditions inside the submarine make it tough for him to extend his legs and that even the team's most skilled pilots find the cramped quarters difficult to get used to.

"When you're done racing, you're completely drained physically," Forbell said. "It takes a long time for you to recover your strength."

Funded solely through small grants and private donations, the sub program's budget is meager compared with what some universities and privately funded teams spend on the development of their craft. Barton, however, believes the essential ingredient needed to win doesn't come with a price tag.

"These kids have a lot of heart," he said. "I've seen them tired, worn out and totally frustrated, but I've never seen them give up. Not once."

Despite the team's successes, this year's race could be the last for the Bartons, whose involvement in human-powered submarines dates back to the early 1990s, when their late son, Stephen, built one for a high school science project and later entered it in the first International Submarine Races. Pat Barton's retirement this year has prompted the couple to consider that perhaps it's time for someone else to take command of the team.

Springstead principal Susan Duval said that the submarine program, with its correlation to academic achievement, is worth continuing, and she is actively seeking someone willing to serve as an adviser.

"It has helped inspire a lot of our students through the years," Duval said. "To me, it's a worthwhile activity that should always have a place at our school."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

   
Comments

Pasco class notes for Jan. 19

Theatre/Art/MusicCenter for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (727) 774-7382.• The center’s Learn it Live! series presents The Three Little Pigs, at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 24- 25. Pre-K – grade 4. Public show at 11 a.m. Jan. ...
Published: 01/16/18
Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Nearly a decade since the luster on Florida’s signature merit scholarship program began to grow dim, state lawmakers have taken a decisive step toward restoring its appeal. Just three days into the 2018 Legislative session, the Florida Senate ...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Parents vent at school district meeting over fate of Lee Elementary School

Parents vent at school district meeting over fate of Lee Elementary School

TAMPA — Leaders of the Hillsborough County School District tried Thursday to reassure parents they are doing their best for the displaced students of Lee Elementary School, who lost their school in a September fire. To some, it was a hard sell...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
UF fraternity suspended until 2021

UF fraternity suspended until 2021

The University of Florida becomes the latest school to suspend a fraternity for alleged incidents involving alcohol and drug use. In December, Heather White, UF’s interim dean of students, sent the university’s chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi...
Published: 01/11/18
Napping, name-calling and stealing: Who’s subbing for your kids’ teachers in Hillsborough?

Napping, name-calling and stealing: Who’s subbing for your kids’ teachers in Hillsborough?

TAMPA — Kenneth Spain told his students at Chamberlain High School that he overcame a pornography addiction when he found Jesus. Pornography and Jesus are both taboo topics for public school teachers, so this became a case for the Hillsborough...
Published: 01/11/18
Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

A bill that would permanently expand state financial aid for tens of thousands of Florida college students faces a key vote today in the state Senate.The "Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018," also known as Senate Bill 4, recently sail...
Published: 01/11/18

Pasco school board election ballot fills

One Pasco County School Board incumbent has decided not to pursue another term, while two others have announced their 2018 reelection bids.Steve Luikart, often a dissenting voice on some of the board’s more contentious issues, said Wednesday he will ...
Published: 01/11/18
Excellence in Education: Hillsborough school district celebrates best

Excellence in Education: Hillsborough school district celebrates best

Teacher of the YearBonnie BresnyanLewis ElementaryBresnyan has taught for 31 years, 20 of those in Hillsborough County, and currently serves Lewis as an ESE specialist. Her accomplishments include National Board Certification, 2006-07 Ida S. Baker Di...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/14/18
District: Michael and Kimberly Hoskinson will return to Coleman Middle and Plant High School

District: Michael and Kimberly Hoskinson will return to Coleman Middle and Plant High School

TAMPA — Educators Michael and Kimberly Hoskinson, who were accused in November of child abuse but later cleared of wrongdoing, will return to their jobs in the Hillsborough County Public Schools.The school district announced their reinstatement on We...
Published: 01/10/18
A first: Graduation rate tops 80 percent for all four Tampa Bay area school districts

A first: Graduation rate tops 80 percent for all four Tampa Bay area school districts

Graduation rates in Florida and the Tampa Bay area continued their steady rise last year, with three local school districts surpassing the state average and all four of them reporting rates over 80 percent. The latter statistic provided something of ...
Published: 01/10/18