The year 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. SNAME, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, held a special conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland, to commemorate the event. In the audience was a 14-year-old boy, a bicycling enthusiast, who was working to earn his scuba certification for an upcoming Boy Scout adventure. The last presentation of the SNAME conference was about the biennial International Submarine Races where many of the human-powered submarines that compete are bicycle powered and all require scuba gear. The teen was hooked.
This young man gained his parents' support and, after consulting with other submarine teams, decided the project was feasible. They were able to recruit three other families and a Marine to work the project. After a year of hard labor, their non-propeller entry, Il Calamaro, crossed the finish line at a top speed of 1.32 knots. The team also won the Spirit of the Races award.
The Il Calamaro crew learned so much through the submarine project--computer skills, basic physics and calculus, hands-on fabrication skills, physical training, project management, and more-- that they wanted to "share the wealth". The team brought their sub to the local community center, and many, many youth were eager to be part of the next submarine team.
KIDS first official submarine entry as a nonprofit was Nautilus. Once again, after a rigorous year of learning and building, the team's entry crossed the finish line! The top speed was 1.60 knots. And once again, the team won the Spirit of the Races award.
Next came Rubber Duckie, a single-person propeller submarine whose hull was made from carbon fiber using a mold. Despite steering issues, the team successfully crossed the finish line. The Rubber Duckie hull was re-used in 2019 for the team entry, Maryland Mako, which took top honors in the Independent category.
In addition to the submarine team, KIDS has sponsored the following activities, as membership and interest suggests: Sea Perch, Junior First Lego League and Vex IQ teams, Arduino programming classes, Sea Glide construction opportunities, and a Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) team. KIDS also seeks to bring hands-on STEM activities to the community and has participated in STEM festivals, hosted a SeaPerch competition, a rubber duck race, and hands-on science day, and given numerous presentations in the local area.