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Ossining AMD Students Get Hands-On With Robots

OSSINING, N.Y. – While he’s only been involved with the Ossining team for a few months,  11-year-old Eric Schmid said the AMD Middle School ’s new robotics team has shown him his future.

“I really like working with robots and I plan to be an inventor when I grow up,” the sixth-grader said. “So this is an after-school program that’s like a dream come true for me.”

The Ossining School District-sponsored team recently competed in the FIRST LEGO League Competition (FLL). The FLL is an annual competition that introduces students aged 9 to 16 to science and technology skills using LEGOS to solve problems through research, engineering and building robots. Assistant Principal Kate Mathews said the district received a $5,000 grant from IBM to purchase the team’s equipment and competition fees. While the first-year group didn’t place in the top three in the competition, Mathews said she was “extremely impressed with the students.”

“The way this group of students worked together as a team was incredible,” Mathews said. “It was exciting to see the kids meet a challenge and face it. They really didn’t have an idea of what the competition would be like so it was really great the way they stepped up and worked together to get through it.”

AMD Technology Teacher James Temps agreed.

“It’s been an incredible experience working with these kids,” Temps said. “The excitement and level of intensity the kids showed blew my mind. But the way we worked together to get the missions accomplished was really nice to see in a really intense environment.”

For eighth-grader Giancarlo Naranjo, 14, the competition gave him a taste for more.

“I’ve had lots of fun and for our first time I feel like we did really well,” Giancarlo said. “I think the team is going to do great next year.  And I want to do this in high school so I think it was a really good start for us.”

In addition to learning from the competition, students were able to gain instruction from former IBM employee and Briarcliff Manor resident KF Etzold, who also holds a Ph.D. in Physics.  Etzold stressed the importance of the students developing research and programming skills at a young age.

“You need this kind of education to develop new technologies in the future,” Etzold said. “The whole objective here is to get these kids a head start. It’s very important for them in their careers to be able to get this kind of teaching and experience.”

With another year under the team’s belt, Temps said he believes next year’s team “has a great chance at placing in the top three.”

“With the information we know now and the great kids we have who are so passionate about it, I think next year will be our time to shine,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to do a tremendous job.”

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