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Garden City Robotics League Moves on to Championship

Ballistic Builders at Qualifiers
Ballistic Builders at Qualifiers
Garden City Robotics League Moves on to Championship   The Garden City Robotics League (GCRL) just finished a strong showing at the FIRST LEGO League Qualifier Tournament held at Central Islip Senior High School on February 2nd and 3rd.  This was the GCRL’s first season and they had four teams, about 30 students, competing in the Qualifier. 76 First Lego League (FLL) teams from all over Long Island participated in a full day of Robotic competitions, presentations and Team tasks. The theme this year was Senior Solutions:  helping Seniors overcome challenges in their daily lives.   During the Qualifiers and the Tournament teams compete on a Robot Challenge and a Project.  During 4 Robot matches, they had to work as a team under pressure and come up with solutions to programming problems on the spot. There were also 4 separate judged events in which they present and answer questions about their Senior Solution Project, Robot Strategy, and an impromptu  "Teamwork" mission.  The children of GCRL did all of that with enthusiasm, spirit and gracious professionalism.   About half the teams from that event get to advance to the FLL Tournament on March 3rd at Longwood HS in Middle Island. Among those teams will be the Robotic Rebels who won First Place for “Innovative Solution”.  GCRL’s other teams who competed are Team Extreme, GC Eat.Sleep.Program, and The Ballistic Builders.  

Coached by Steve Giammona and Brian Sanguyu, the Robotic Rebels has seven members: Steven Giammona, 11; Anthony Sanguyu, 10; Keith DeStaebler, 10; Justin MacFall, 10; Christina Marciano, 11; Ronnie Marciano, 9; and Kevin McGoldrick, 10.  The Robotic Rebels worked hard for several months, meeting multiple times a week, to program their robot and to invent the “Senior Saver,” a wireless device to shut off the main gas valve in a home during an emergency situation. Asked by one of the panel judges at the Feb. 2 qualifying competition in Central Islip, “As a team, how did you choose the problem that you did to study?” Team member Steven Giammona replied, “We were thinking of a problem and recently my grandma, she lives in Connecticut, tripped, and at the same time we heard about a story about an old man during Hurricane Sandy whose house blew up. We took these two problems that we heard about at the same time and we put them together, and we found out that falls and gas-related accidents were the two leading causes of [senior injuries and fatalities in the home.”  The team realized that what seniors need is, when they trip and cannot get up, “something that will shut off their gas,” Keith DeStaebler added. The team acted out a skit for the panel of judges wherein an elderly gentleman turns on his stovetop to boil water to make a cup of tea, then returns to his chair to resume watching TV.  When the tea kettle whistles, the gentleman gets us but trips on his way back to the stove. Thankfully, he is wearing his Senior Saver around his neck and is able to wirelessly shut off the gas.  

Team  GC Eat.Sleep.Program took a trip to A Step Ahead and learned how Prosthetics were made.  Their Senior partner interview made a lasting impression on the kids in educating them how smoking can cause vascular problems leading to amputations.  Andrew Cheng said that he "never wants to smoke and will educate his friends on the problems smoking causes." Liam Banahan explained how no matter how many times they worked with their robot on performing a mission, sometimes things still went wrong, saying "this is also what happens in the real world and we need to learn how to cope when things go wrong."  Sean Jaeger, Cyrus Lalehzar, Connor Dane and Garrett Treanor were all part of the team and participated in the FLL Qualifying tournament. Each of them displayed FLL's core values including Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition at the tournament. Coaches Danielle Lalehzar ,Melissa Jaeger and Patrick Treanor were extremely proud of their rookie team's accomplishments over the season.  

With Coaches Martha Yasso and Suzy Dorney, Team Extreme chose to research why seniors fall for their FLL project. They interviewed older family members to find out what caused their fall. The team came up with "The Balance Process" as their solution. "The Balance Process" is a combination of using a cane called the Hurry Cane, exercises like Tai Chi, and safety proofing the home. The team worked together to create a presentation board, PowerPoint presentation, and flyer to educate friends and family about their findings. Team members are: Ian Yasso, Robbie Treanor, Sharon Cunningham, Ryan Cunningham, Liam Dorney, and Ryan Murphy.  

The Ballistic Builders learned an important lesson when a computer problem erased most of their Robot programming just hours before the match. “This is what happens in real life”, said coach Peter Arianas, and with coach James Lynch, and GCHS Senior and Mentor Alex Kinn, the team hunkered down and re-worked their programming.  The team members were fueled by Dunkin Donuts provided by a team parent Pastor Wanda Lawry Hughes. Pastor Hughes generously provides space to the GCRL in the Garden City Presbyterian Church. The team also worked with Senior partner, Mr. Scollard, the Grandfather of two of their team members Trey and Riley Bauer, to discuss challenges he and other seniors faced. The team researched arthritis, and created the “Keyhorn” – a dual purpose tool that helps seniors grasp their keys and help them put on their shoes. Member Timmy DeMaro explained to judges that they came up with two separate inventions and decided to merge their two ideas. The team put on a skit with co-hosts Max Genova and Matt Hughes, senior citizen played by Jimmy Lynch, scientist inventors Timmy DeMaro and Brandon Noll, Rappers George Arianas and Trey Bauer and “Deal Closer” Riley Bauer.   

At the end of the event, students from all the different teams came together and danced to music provided by a DJ. It was a great celebration of their hard work.    

Please come out to Longwood HS in Middle Island on March 3rd to cheer on GCRL Jr. FLL teams Team Fun and Crazy Creators, and FLL team Robotic Rebels. For more information email Trish Lynch jandtlynch@verizon.net, and see usfirst.org.                     
Ellen Subramaniam February 18, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Great job to everyone Trish. What a fantastic experience for GC children - building skills in science and technology while also teaching about gracious professionalism and giving back. Fabulous program.

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