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


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