Kennedy High School hosted an all-day VEX Robotics VRC Tournament on Jan. 25 that drew 25 teams from 18 schools across the New York region.
At the VEX Robotics Tower Takeover Competition, each teams' robot and engineering notebook was evaluated to score the design process, testing and programming of their robot throughout the 2019-20 VEX competition season. Teams were also judged individually in a skills field where they had to demonstrate their robot's abilities, driver skills and autonomous programming.
Kennedy had three teams representing Bellmore-Merrick, while Calhoun and Mepham High School each had one. Robotics team coaches included Deanna Ocampo and Helmut Schleith from Kennedy, Craig Celeste from Calhoun, and Diana Nigro from Mepham. Ocampo, a Kennedy science and technology teacher, also worked for months planning the tournament arranging for judges and volunteers while also serving as tournament manager.
“During the competition matches, all district teams advanced successfully through the morning qualifier rounds,” said Robert Soel, a science chairperson at Kennedy and districtwide STEM Education chair.
The Kennedy Team B ranked no. 6 in the tournament going into the afternoon elimination matches. Kennedy Team A advanced to the quarterfinals.
"The dedication of the Kennedy teams has been amazing,” said Ocampo. “This season, they spent many late nights and off-periods, building, testing and redesigning their robots to make them better and better for competition. I am so proud of their performance at the tournament and their complex robot designs this season."
Calhoun's team advanced all the way to the semifinal brackets. Kennedy’s Team B also placed eighth in Tournament Skills ranking.
The Calhoun team also earned a special Judges' Award in recognition of their exemplary effort and perseverance at the tournament.
“They were recognized for working at such a high level as a first-year team with limited supplies, while thinking outside the box to create a complex system with innovative design,” explained Craig Celeste, an engineering teacher and Calhoun Robotics Club faculty adviser.
“The Robotics Club was very proud to have scored points in the skills, autonomous and controlled categories for this season's Tower Takeover Match,” added Diana Nigro, a Mepham science teacher and Robotics Club faculty adviser.
Bellmore-Merrick’s robotics initiative continues to be a huge success.
“Students in all of our schools are discovering their passion for engineering and programming as members of the Robotics teams after school and in our engineering elective courses as well,” added Soel. “The energy, skill and passion for STEM which the students displayed at the tournament was inspiring and so much fun to be a part of.”