Saturday, December 19th: Starting up in November with only 6 weeks to prepare before their first VEX Robotics competition the Carle Place Community Robotics team had to scramble. The hard work paid off and a Carle Place Community Robotics Alliance consisting of The Harvey School, Massapequa High School, and The Robo Frogs of St. Mary’s came in first place and won the Tournament Champion trophy entitling them to participate in the Southern New York State VEX Robotics Competition being held in Glen Cove on March 5th.
The competition, sponsored by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Carle Place and Design Solutions was held in the St. Mary’s Parish Hall and it was attended by twenty-two teams from eleven different schools. Some of the action was recorded on Youtube for those interested in enjoying the excitement of the event. (Youtube: St. Mary’s 2015 VEX Robotics Competition).
On December 5, at an earlier competition held at Jericho High School, the team had programming problems, but was able to score autonomously consistently and score low goals throughout the matches, demonstrating their ability to design, construct and compete in a competitive environment.
At its 10 o’clock service on Sunday the 20th of December Instructor Don Schaefer, team Coach, Robert Garcia and the team Driver, Michael Fokas were given an ovation for their award winning performances at the event. Mr. Schaefer, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church’s Senior Warden, a recently retired teacher of Technology Education who has taught Robotics and Engineering for over ten years at Paul D. Schreiber High School said, “St. Mary’s is pleased to be able to sponsor this community event which will enable its youth to explore this STEM hands on learning activity. STEM, a national initiative, encourages learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through teamwork. Many heads make smart work.”
Explaining why St. Mary’s became involved in the competition Mr. Schaefer went on to say, “St. Mary’s was looking for an innovative way to offer Carle Place and its surrounding communities a youth oriented community service program that is different those that exist, and my background in Technology Education, my ability to devote my time towards a robotics program coupled with St. Mary’s willingness to fund it made it all come together. Started in November, the program will introduce students to the field of engineering including: programming, design and most important the value of teamwork. That’s what community is all about.”
Donald Shaefer’s assistant, Mentor Pranav Krishamuthhy, a Carle Place High School and college graduate with 2 degrees in computer science commented on his participation “We are defined by what we do, and by affording themselves of opportunities such as this young people can reap huge long run benefits. Participating students can expect companies to consider them priority personnel picks, and colleges are more likely to offer them scholarships. Their resumes will mark them as achievers. Even though I am not an Episcopalian, for me this interfaith initiative is important to the cohesiveness and spirit of the community, and being a mentor for these kids is an absolute honor. We can all agree that when our youth avail themselves of skill shaping opportunities such as this the future of engineering in America is in good hands.”
While these tournaments don’t rival the Super Bowl in public awareness, their positive impact on America’s society will be greater than that annual clash of the football titans. The initiative inspired the STEM Education act of 2015. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, and Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat from Conneticut, both members of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
VEX Robotics Competition, “Nothing But Net” is played on a 12’x12’ square field. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Scoring your Balls and Bonus Balls in your Low and High Goals, and by Elevating Robots in your Climbing Zone.
Release to Newsday, Frog Horn, Anton Community papers, Diocese of Long Island