Charles County Students Compete in CSM Robotics Challenge

LA PLATA, Md. (May 9, 2010)—Students from Charles County Public middle and high schools competed in the 2010 College of Southern Maryland Robotics Challenge on Saturday, April 10, at the La Plata campus. The fourth annual event is part of CSM’s Institute of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (iSTEM), which provides programs to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

More than 130 teams competed in the event from 70 public schools in the tri-county area. Teams compete in one of two divisions: junior division, comprised of elementary and middle school teams, and the senior division for high school teams.

Senior division teams competed against each other in the “Clean Sweep” challenge where teams designed, built and operated robots to dump, shoot or throw balls of various sizes into their opponent’s field. Teams also participated in skill challenge competitions in which teams demonstrated their skills in driving or programming their robot. Teams were required to build their robots using the VEX Robotics System.

Junior division teams used the LEGO Mindstorm Robotics System and competed in the “Save the Bay” challenge. Teams conducted research on Chesapeake Bay related topics and used their robot to perform various activities related to saving the Bay.

Nine Charles County Public Schools teams earned awards at the event. Two teams from Westlake High School, team one and team three, were named tournament finalists in the senior division. As finalists, the teams were named runner-ups to the VEX Robotics World Championship, held in Dallas last month.

Westlake team one members include: Aaron Jones, senior; Mitchell Darby, junior; Alec Mandell, sophomore; and Steve Matthews, senior. Westlake team three members are Brittney Banks, senior; Mara Flores, sophomore; Alena Williams, senior; and Danielle Hightower, junior. Team coach is Lee Hastings, Westlake technology education teacher.

Westlake’s team three also received the Future Award in the senior division. The award recognizes a team that impresses the judges with characteristics such as organization, planning, leadership and maturity.

The “Erosion Destroyers” team from J. C. Parks Elementary School received the Excellence Award in the junior division category, sponsored by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division. The award is the highest award a team can receive, and honors team members for inspiring and motivating others about science and technology, solving problems, and demonstrating respect and professionalism to event participants.

Team members are Parks fifth graders Mallory Mathis, Andrew Lambeth, Khalaya Myers, Caleb Thomas, Franchezka Matundan and Corey Lake. Team coach is Deanna Wheeler, science teacher.

The “Unicells” team from Piccowaxen Middle School received the Project Award in the junior division category, sponsored by the Charles County Technical Council. The award is presented to the team whose research, solutions and creative presentation best reflect an in-depth understanding of the various scientific disciplines and issues involved with the challenge project.

Team members are Blaine Hoffman, seventh grade; Matthew Kamin, seventh grade; Zachary Sinclair, seventh grade; Matthew Fan, sixth grade; William Coggins, eighth grade; Christain Barnes, seventh grade; Travis Earnshaw, eighth grade; and John Hungerford, seventh grade. Team coach is Mike Ficalora, science teacher.

The “Group A” team from Piccowaxen received the Robot Performance Award in the junior division category. The award was sponsored by the National Defense Education Program and is given to the team whose robot achieves the best score on the competition field or in the elimination round during the LEGO robot challenge. Team members are Julianna Dawson, eighth grade; Emma Dawson, sixth grade; Annie Russell, eighth grade; Dedra Hammond, eighth grade; Jessica Hirst, eighth grade; and Jacob Brezina, sixth grade. Team coaches were Ann Windsor, Piccowaxen science teacher, and parent Bernice Brezina.

The John Hanson Middle School “N.E.R.D.S.” team was awarded the Teamwork Award in the junior division category. This award recognizes teams for extraordinary enthusiasm, exceptional partnership and excellent teamwork. Team members are Hanson seventh graders Bradley Blandford, Thomas Jones, Riley Elder, Zachary Ray, Thomas Beal, Dante Barnes and Kobe Clarke. Team coach is Chris Kovola, science teacher.

The “Blue Team” from Theodore G. Davis Middle School received the Research Award at the junior division level. This award is presented to the team that demonstrates use and understanding of diverse resources to formulate an in-depth and thorough explanation of the team’s point of view and solution to the challenge project. Team members are seventh graders Joshua Maletta and Connor Ray, and sixth graders Yahye Nur, Toniya Scott and Christian Fisher. Team coach is Jessica Harris, science teacher.

Thomas Stone High School’s “SB’s” team was presented with the Amaze Award in the senior division category. This award is sponsored by Wyle and is given to a team that has built a competition robot that demonstrates overall excellent quality. Team members are seniors Patrick Flaherty, Erik Swinson and Andrew Phang, and team coach is Beth Hastings, technology education teacher.

Additionally, the North Point High School “NP Robotics” team was awarded the Cooperate Award at the senior division level. This award is presented to a team that demonstrates extraordinary teamwork. Team members are Nathan Radtke, freshman; Scott Abercrombie, sophomore; Zachary Towns, junior; John Thomas, junior; and Tyler Jenkins, junior. Team coaches are Ken Stout, engineering concepts teacher, and teacher Albert Coleman.

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