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FIRST LEGO Robotics Competition

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School robotics team. Photo courtesy PJSD

Members of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School robotics team took part in the recent FIRST competition at Hofstra University, putting their knowledge to the test against 50 other New York high school teams and six international teams from as far as India and Taiwan. 

This year, Port Jefferson was joined by Mount Sinai High School students. Their combined efforts helped the team make it to the final rounds to place seventh overall — an extremely challenging event to win, given the level of international competition. 

Students used their math, science and engineering abilities and took months to design and build their robot, following strict rules, limited resources and an intense time limit. The teams were challenged to raise funds, design a brand, hone teamwork skills and program their industrial-size robots to play a complex field game against like-minded competitors.

“We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate sport for the mind,” Port Jefferson’s technology and engineering teacher and robotics team adviser Brian Chalmers said. “Applying skills learned in the classroom during competition is always a positive opportunity for our students. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.” 

He added, “We are proud of our students and grateful for our professional volunteer mentors who shared their time and talents to guide these students to success.”

Top row, from left to right: Coach Venus Chavez, Nate Hart, Connor Blistany, Sophia Villagracia, Anna Polyansky, Teen Mentor Kai Kubik, Teen Mentor Jacob Huwer. Bottom row: Gideon Cesare, Brian Hyrycz, Scott Disbrow, Coach Khan DeRenzo and Teen Mentor Yushan Pan. Not pictured due to illness: Kenan Caliskan. Photo courtesy Sal Filosa

The Port Jefferson Library’s Lego Robotics team advanced to the Long Island Championship round of the SBPLI FIRST Robotics League, which will take place on Sunday, March 5, at Hicksville High School. 

The team came in fifth place and won an award for their robot design at the qualifiers held at Huntington High School on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Librarians Khan DeRenzo and Venus Chavez have coached the team with help from teen mentors Jacob Huwer, Kai Kubik and Yushan Pan.

The Comsewogue middle school robotics team poses with coaches Steven Nielsen and Jennifer Caltagirone. Photo by Alex Petroski
Steven Nielsen shows off the creation of the Robotic Raccoons, Comsewogue's middle school team. Photo by Alex Petroski
Steven Nielsen shows off the creation of the Robotic Raccoons, Comsewogue’s middle school team. Photo by Alex Petroski

Comsewogue’s John F. Kennedy Middle School robotics team captured the Long Island Championship in the FIRST LEGO Robotics Competition at Longwood High School on Feb. 28, competing against about 150 other teams. They will be moving on to nationals in Missouri in April.

The board of education honored the team for its achievement at the board’s meeting on Monday.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Superintendent Joe Rella said in an interview. “They’ve been working on this project for a while, and that’s great that they have that interest.”

The Robotic Raccoons team, coached by Steven Nielsen and Jennifer Caltagirone, is collecting bottles and cans as a means of fundraising for their trip to Missouri. Anyone who would like to help should bring their recyclables to the middle school’s main entrance lobby.