CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – A group of Ossining middle school students with a collective talent for robotics has advanced to the semifinals of the Hudson Valley FIRST LEGO League qualifying tournament.
The team, which goes by the name Robotics Wizards, hails from Anne M. Dorner Middle School, according to a statement from the Ossining school district, which said the team scored well in the three-part competition on Jan. 21 in Chappaqua.
According to the district, the team earned first place for its research project, third place for its robot’s performance and third place overall.
The research challenge included in this year’s competition was themed “Animal Allies,” according to the school district, which said that each team was required to identify a problem that arises when people and animals interact and then develop a solution to “improve the relationship.”
For its project, the Robotics Wizards tackled the problem of humans interfering with leatherback sea turtle habitats, according to the district, which said that only one in every 1,000 hatchlings lives into adulthood – in large part because of tourism, crowds and noise.
“The students proposed erecting tunnels, which they named Turtle Shell Tunnels, made of sound proof, tinted Plexiglas,” the district said in its statement. “They would be set up during nesting season to allow the hatchlings to travel from the nest to the high tide line with little distraction.”
In the robotics competition, the team built and programmed LEGO MINDSTORMS robots to solve missions on a game board, according to the district, which said that the missions included delivering refrigerated food to animals, getting honey out of a beehive and ensuring that a guide dog prevents a blind person from crossing the street when a vehicle drives by.
The Robotics Wizards, which began preparing for the competition last fall, has been meeting after school for two hours a day, three days a week, according to the district. The team includes: William Curvan, Rebecca Galindo, Nathaniel Itty, Dylan Juan, Tyler Kaplan, Sofia Merladett, Matthew Mione, Sola Mori, Tanmay Singhal, and Janessa Yan.
Technology teachers Jessica Zhinin and Amanda Maliszewski, along with K.F. Etzold, an IBM retiree who volunteers to help students, served as the team’s coaches.
“The students’ accomplishments show the value of hard work, creativity and teamwork,” said Ossining Superintendent of Schools Raymond Sanchez. “We wish them much success as they continue to the FIRST LEGO League semifinals.”
The semifinal competition is scheduled for Feb. 11 in Poughkeepsie.