Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PS 261 LEGO Robotics Team NANORAMA takes home a Teamwork Award at City-Wide Tournament

"3, 2, 1., LEGO!" The robots were off and running as the PS261 LEGO Robotics team Nanorama competed against 81 teams from elementary, middle, and high schools from across the 5 boroughs yesterday in the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition.

Nanorama was recognized early in the day when we discovered an article about the team in the NYC FIRST LEGO League newspaper (You can read the article here: We were recognized a second time at the end of the day when we were presented with a TEAMWORK Award!

The tournament was held in the Athletic Stadium at Riverbank State Park at 145th Street and Riverside Drive in Manhattan. Over 2,000 people were in attendance. Nanorama competed in 8 robotic challenge matches throughout the day and presented research on a new product they developed called "The Lip Zipper 3000" that uses Nanotechnology to help students to not call out in class.

The research team presented their information in front of a panel of judges without their coach's support. "The judges loved us and didn't ask us questions we couldn't find an answer for," exclaimed the research team as they exited the research room full of smiles and pride. Jennifer Lindauer-Thompson should be congratulated for leading the research team.

Lip Zipper 300o Research team:
Ciprian Alvarez, Carlos Baez, Joe Fernando, Max Gertler, Darean Fortune Lee, Tatiana Montes, Osiris Murdough, Damaras Obi, and Anya Oleck.

The 8 robotics matches throughout the day were intense, exciting, and showcased our team's determination, support, and problem solving abilities.

In the first round of the day Maya Howard Watts and Andromache Petridis experienced an upset when their robot "Big Bird" was not able to accomplish the challenges they had prepared to attempt. This duo persevered throughout their 2 1/2 minute match by aborting unsuccessful missions and moving on to attempt new challenges. Their determination and grace under pressure was recognized and applauded by all who witnessed their match.

Kani Biggs and Jack Schwartz also participated in round one with their robot "Grover." This pair remained cool and calm while the fans cheered. They accomplished two successful missions and earned Nanorama's top score of the day, 83 points! (That's 13 points higher than our top score in the Brooklyn Tech competition last month).

In round 2 Androcles Petridis and Nicholas Moore earned 30 points with "Big Bird" by successfully completing the "Smell" mission (by having the robot deliver 2 "Pizza Smell" molecules to a LEGO person). Mojique Tyler and Anastaia Meredith-Goujon earned 63 points with their robot "Grover." They successfully accomplished the difficult "Buckyball" mission where the robot must release a Buckyball containing medicine into a LEGO person's arm. You would be surprised how hard it is to design and program a robot that can carry and deliver a marble (representing a Buckyball) to a precise location.

Round 3 was a nail biter (not to mention that our principal Ms. Mills came to cheer us on too)! In the first match after lunch the robot team of Max Gertler and Tasia Rosborough worked with "Big Bird" to attempt a number of challenges. First they tried the "Smell" mission and met with difficulty. Then they attempted the "Nanotube Strength" mission and met with more difficulty. At last with the clock ticking and time running out they attempted the most difficult "Buckyball" mission. With only 5 seconds remaining on the clock, "Big Bird" moved its way toward the LEGO bone. The robot slowly turned and rotated the motor that held the marble. Everyone held their breath to see if the robot would successfully deploy the "Buckyball." Just as the timer went to "1" the ball made it in and the crowd went wild! Max and Tasiya have nerves of steel! One crowd member said, "I want that kid piloting my plane!"

Also in round 3 were the team of Waleed Yahya and Maya Terhune. Throughout the day and even during the lunch Waleed and Maya were testing a new mission, "Atomic Force Microscopy" with "Grover." They developed a new attachment and program, and tested the mission on different practice tables in the arena. However, even the best-prepared engineers can face challenges. Maya and Waleed tirelessly troubleshooted with "Grover" to attempt the challenge. Their ingenuity and hard work was not in vain as their engineering and programming design were successful in the next round.

In Round 4, the last round of the day, both teams were up at two separate tables at the same time. Maya Howard Watts and Andromache Petridis came back to try again with "Big Bird" and showed us that it pays to never give up! "Grover" was operated in this round by Carlos Baez and Tatiana Montes. The "Grover" team successfully accomplished the "Atomic Force Microscopy" mission based on Maya T.'s and Waleed's design, as well as the "Smell" mission with the same attachment! "It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen," said coach Allisyn Levy. "I was so glad that Maya and Waleed's work was able to work successfully today, that another team was able to utilize their design, and on 2 missions!"

After the rounds were complete the team packed up and waited for the awards ceremony. The team gathered around the trophy table with their fingers crossed hoping to take one home (but remembering that their goal today was to work together and have fun). During this time Nanorama did the "Chicken Dance" with the referees (twice), danced in a conga line with 81 teams, did the "Cha-Cha-Slide," and "Cotton-Eyed Joe." (We were all hoping to see Joe Fernando wow us with "The Robot," but he says that dance is just for PS 261.)

After the dance break the judges appeared and began the awards ceremony. The first award was for team spirit. They announced that team spirit award was for "teams that painted their faces," (we did), "had fun," (we did)… and so Nanorama crossed their fingers… "Handed out flyers." (uh oh, we didn't). This award went to a middle school on Staten Island with a HUGE team, and they deserved it – so we cheered them on! Then the "Team Work" awards were announced…

"The Teamwork Awards go to teams that best demonstrate extraordinary effort, enthusiasm, exceptional partnership, and practice of FIRST LEGO League values. Our first of three teamwork awards of the day goes to a team that meets this description by showing extraordinary teamwork throughout today's event, team 2625 NANORAMA!"

Nanorama screamed with surprise and ran down the stands and into the pits. Were ushered to the winner's circle by roaring cheers from the crowd and hand slaps from the team of judges. We were then presented with a trophy made out of LEGO (how cool) and took a team picture with the event organizers. The families, team members and coaches were thrilled to earn this award that recognizes our commitment to TEAMWORK.

Even without the award, team Nanorama had a fun and successful day. We would like to thank the families that joined us and gave their support, and Ms. Mills for coming and cheering us on throughout the entire 2nd half. Also thanks to all at PS 261 who came to cheer us on (and participate) at the Pep Rally – your support really helped!

Cipiran Alvarez and Courtney Payton – we missed you at the competition, but we hope you both had successful middle school interviews!

Please give your congratulations when you see the team members and coaches in the halls. And here's to a wonderful end to our 2nd successful (and fun) LEGO Robotics season!

Team Nanorama

Aedan Khang Miando
Anastasia Meredith-Goujon
Androcles Petridis
Andromache Petridis
Anya Oleck
Carlos Baez
Ciprian Alvarez
Cortney Payton
Damaras Obi
Darean Fortune-Lee
Jack Schwartz
Joe Fernando
Kani Biggs
Max Gertler
Maya Howard Watts
Maya Terhune
Mojique Tyler
Nicholas Moore
Osiris Murdough
Tasiya Rosborough
Tatiana Montes
Waleed Yahya


Allisyn Levy
Jennifer Lindauer-Thompson
Maureen Reilly


Team Parent
Marci Rosa and all the team parents :)

Thanks to PS261 PTA, Zip Mills, Lena Barbers, Chris Peyser, Danielle Taylor, The PS261 Cheerleaders, Michael Jasmin, The PS261 After School African Drumming Group, Karyn Fessler-West, and Donald Harnick

Photos by Gary He

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The First Edition of The 408 Reporter is in!

On Friday class 408 worked together to create our first (hopefully of many) class newsletters. Students worked in cooperative groups to develop a name, articles, comics, and brain teasers. Students also signed up to be reporters this coming week to develop content for the next edition of the "408 Reporter"

Download the first edition
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Some Great Websites to find information the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

Login with the username: Bronx
and the password: Bronx
Click on the red “Social Studies” box. Click on the “Martin Luther King Jr.” box. Watch the movie and then take the quiz.

Click on “Martin Luther King Jr. Day January 15th”. Read about Martin Luther King.

3. Scholastic News
(If this link doesn’t work, do a google search for “Martin Luther King slideshow” and click on the Scholastic link). When you get there, click on “slide show”and look at the pictures. You can explore the other links on the main page, too.

4. Martin Luther King Jr. Comic Book

5. "I have a dream" Speech
Watch his famous speech

So what did you learn?

Comment on the blog and list three (3) things that Martin Luther King did to help end segregation and discrimination against African Americans.

What was Martin Luther King’s Dream?

If Martin Luther King were still alive today, what would you want to say to him? What do you think about what he did to help end segregation and discrimination? Do you have a dream for what you want your world to be like? What would you like to change about our world?

Write a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. In your letter, please include

* One thing you are glad that he did. Look back at your research for help.

* What your dream is for the future. What kind of world do you want to live in? Do you think we should work to end homelessness? Is pollution a problem? Think about what YOUR dream is.

* You may include a drawing, poem, or photo that you think Martin Luther King would like.

* Anything else you think Martin Luther King would be interested to know.

You may write you letter on lined paper, construction paper, or nice notepaper, or post it on the blog.

Write a letter that you would actually be PROUD to show Martin Luther King.

Your letter is due Tuesday January 16th

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Phantom of the Opera Field Trip

We have been given the opportunity to attend this Broadway show on January 24th. The cost of tickets are $30 a piece…

We know this is a time of year when expenses may be tight for some. So please let us know of your interest in sending your child to see this show. (And if you are willing to chaperone – ALL attendees must pay the $30 ticket price). If we are going to take the kids, we need to secure our tickets ASAP.

Wednesday January 24, 2007
Matinee – 2:00 pm
(the run time of the show is 2:30 minutes - so we will be back at 261 at 5:00 – 5:15 pm)

***You must arrange for a late pick up of your child***

Majestic Theatre
245 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036

Travelling by:

Cost: $30.00

Students must bring a disposable bag lunch

Download permission slip

Sunday, January 07, 2007

ELA Test - This week!


Tuesday January 9 - Reading Section
Reading 5-6 passages
Answering 28 Multiple Choice Questions

Wednesday January 10 - Listening Section
Listening to a story read aloud
Writing: 2 short responses
1 essay (about a character’s change in the story)

Thursday January 11 - Writing Section
Reading 2 passages (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)
Writing: 3 short responses
1 essay (comparing both passages)

Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep, eats a healthy breakfast and is ON TIME for school!

*Children who arrive LATE will not be allowed to take the test and will have to take a make-up test.

Testing Rules
(Please go over with your children)

* No talking during the instructions and during the test

* Questions can ONLY be asked when the teacher says, “Are there any questions?” and you CANNOT call out your questions (you must give a quite “thumbs up”)

* Teachers CANNOT help students during the test – students should work on doing their best INDEPENDENTLY

* Students are NOT ALLOWED to leave the testing room until the test is over (so NO bathroom trips)

* Students cannot talk to other students during the test

Testing Strategies

Download Testing Strategies

Highlights from our South Street Seaport Trip

Class 408 visited the Peking Ship in South Street Seaport in December. We were given a private tour of what life and work was like on board this "tall ship."

The Peking with all her sails unfurled

The Peking Ship sailed in the early 1900's - and was used as a cargo ship in the Nitrate trade (nitrate is a chemical that was used for fertilizer).

The four-masted Peking represents one of the last of the trading ships that are powered only by wind. The Peking was launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911 and she was used to carry manufactured goods to South America and to return via Cape Horn with nitrate.

In 1932 (after 12 years of sailing), the Peking was retired and moored in England. There she was converted into a a boys' school under the name Arethusa. 4o years later in 1975, the Peking moved to New York City to be part of the South Street Seaport Museum.

The Peking has a steel hull as long as a football field, and masts as tall as an 18-story building, Peking is one of the largest sailing vessels ever built and the largest preserved by a museum.

Although the Peking is a modern ship as compared to what the early Explorers sailed to the Americas, we used the first-hand knowledge we gained on the Peking Ship to help up imagine what life must have been like on board sailing ships for the Explorers 400 years ago.

Captain Jen addressing Class 408's crew

The Peking crew

Class 408's crew

The Peking crew raising the sail

Class 408's crew rasising the sail

Peking Navigataor checking his Astrolabe

Class 408 entertaing NYC tourists

One of Peking's 4 masts and Yard Arms
(Imagine sitting way up on the Crow's nest!)

Aye Aye Captain!

Peking Ship Links

South Street Seaport Museum Website

Peking Ship on WikiPedia

Monday, January 01, 2007

Homework - Winter Vacation Homework

Reading - 20 minutes
*Read 20 Minutes (or more) each night
*Fill out Reading Log
Reading Log


*Test Essay Packet
This essay (last 2 pages of the packet) must be 5 paragraphs
*on Page 3 of the story - the text begins with a sentence fragment that is not a continuation from the text on Page 2. - The packet was not copied correctly - we will hand out a proper copy and continue this packet in class.
The Stolen Moon

This essay must be 5 paragraphs

Paragraph 1 - Introduction
1. Mention the title, author, and genre
2. Restate your thesis (or Main question on TEST ESSAY)
3. Mention examples or parts you are going to talk about

Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 - Body Paragraphs
1. Mention specific examples from the story that support the thesis or Bullit Point Questions on TEST ESSAY
*For example
*For instance
2. Connect back to the thesis/main question in your own words
*This shows
*This matters

Paragraph 5 - Conclusion
1. Restate the thesis/question and say that you have proven it
*In conclusion
2. Make a connection to yourself or to the lesson the thesis is teaching us
*By giving the character of the Goose an idiosyncrasy, I think E.B. White is trying to teach us...

Math - 10-15 minutes
* How Many Window's? Sheet

* Problem of the Week
POW Due January 4th

WOW – Words of the Week - 5-10 minutes
Word Study Packet - Due January 4th

Test Prep - 10-15 minutes/Passage
Multiple Choice Packet


Before reading the passage, be sure to:
*Read the directions
*Read the title
*Look at the picture
*THINK about who is in the story and what you think happens

*Read the question stems
*UNDERLINE key words in the questions
*Answer as many questions as you can by matching key words from the questions in the passage

*Read the passage in chunks
*Stop and THINK about the MAIN IDEA in each paragraph
*Stop and THINK
*Who is in the story?
*What is the setting?
*What is the problem?
*How is the character facing the problem?
*What is the lesson we are learning from this story?

*Double check your answers!