Local 4th Grade Robotics Team Advancing to Regional Competition

Wil Papadopoulos, Sebastian Balaraman, Sebastian Zagorski and Michael Zammit with coaches Elizabeth and Michael Zammit. Photo: Hudson Valley Lego League

On Saturday January 20th, 16 teams in fourth through eighth grade from the Hudson Valley participated in a FIRST LEGO League Tournament held at the French American School of New York in Mamaroneck. Rookie fourth grade team The Sneaky Bots, comprised of three students from Sleepy Hollow and one from Irvington ranked in the Top 6, and will advance to the Regional Tournament at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday, February 10. The students programmed a LEGO Spike Prime robot to complete missions in a 2.5-minute time frame while other teams competed at the same time.

The Sneaky Bots’ success also depended on their innovation project. Teams were tasked with the challenge to think of an activity that they would like to get more people involved in by using the arts and technology as a tool. The team came up with the concept for a video game to encourage more kids to play musical instruments in real life. This year at their schools, Washington Irving School and Main Street School, they all chose a musical instrument to play, but they noticed that not all kids participated in this option. They interviewed teachers and industry experts to fine-tune their ideas for their concept. Teams were judged by a panel of volunteers, who then questioned them about their robot design, innovation project and demonstration of the FIRST Core Values (teamwork, impact, discovery, innovation, inclusion, fun, cooperation, gracious professionalism). The team was coached by parents Elizabeth and Michael Zammit, of Sleepy Hollow.

“What is so great about this program is that it is teaching children life skills that they can apply in the future.” said Elizabeth Zammit. “They learned so much about persistence, professionalism, and teamwork through this process. It wasn’t easy building the robot and coding missions. They did all of the work themselves and implemented a framework for making team decisions (popular vote). They also needed to know when to ask for help from experts. We appreciate everyone who helped us along the way, especially our team’s mentor Dan Lipin, formerly of Hackley school who now coaches teams in the Plano, TX area. Most importantly, they had fun throughout the program and formed new friendships.”

Community Event

The team would like to share their learnings from this season and encourage others to participate in FIRST LEGO League. They have planned a community event open to the public at Warner Library at 10:30 a.m. Saturday March 2 in the Children’s Room. The team will demonstrate the robot performing its missions and will answer questions about starting a team.

They also hope to present at the Irvington PTA Science Fair on Saturday March 9.

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