Fourteen teams from Charles County Public middle and high schools competed in the 2017 Southern Maryland VEX League Robotics Championship held Feb. 4 at the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) La Plata campus. The competition is split into two challenges — one for middle schoolers and one for high school teams. The VEX League is sponsored by CSM and its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) partners to support teams from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.
This year’s challenge is Starstruck. Played on a 12-foot-by-12-foot square field, Starstruck teams compete in matches including a 15-second autonomous period and another portion with drivers controlling the robot for 1 minute and 45 seconds of play. The goal is to the get a higher score than the opposing teams by getting stars and cubes in zones and hanging robots on a bar.
On Saturday morning in CSM’s gym, teams tinkered and fine-tuned projects. Tables were littered with equipment, paper coffee cups, duct tape and tools. Teens huddled around laptops, robots and team members, working out the kinks before it was their turn in the ring.
Westlake High School sophomores Brian Thomas and Matthew Maieli, along with junior Alex Proctor, worked together on the finishing touches of their robot. Maieli was encouraged to join the VEX Robotics team by Thomas. “Brian actually dragged me into this,” Maieli said. “But once I got involved, it’s been a lot of fun.”
“It’s fun,” said Emily DePew, a sophomore at La Plata High School who is on one of the school’s Angle Warriors teams. “But I want to pursue a career in this.”
“There’s a need for more women in the [engineering] field, more diversity,” La Plata sophomore Sophia Khan said.
Four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams qualified to advance in the VEX Robotics Maryland State Championship. The middle school competition will be March 11 at La Plata High School. The high school competition will be March 3 and 4 at Dundalk/Sollers Point Technical School in Dundalk.
Two Piccowaxen Middle School teams were named Tournament Champions and will advance to the state competition. Motorized Madness is made up of eighth graders Sydney Robertson, Matthew Hale and Cheyanne Milbrook. The Happy Wheels team is comprised of seventh graders Leanne Berry and Evan Compton, and sixth graders Mia Ross and Nathan Todd. Team coaches are Sandra Chisholm, Piccowaxen’s computer science teacher, and Byron Brezina.
Piccowaxen’s C B.O.B. team of sixth graders Lauren Lovejoy, Ginger Hayden, Hannah Kelley and William Harry Kriemelmeyer earned the Design Award. Chisholm and Brezina are the team’s coaches. The Design Award is given to a team that demonstrates an organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management and team organization.
John Hanson Middle School’s, Pro Vex Masters, earned the Judges Award given to a team that judges determine deserves recognition for exemplary effort and perseverance at the challenge and recognizes team accomplishments during the season. The team is made up of seventh graders Kritchanin Yampai, Parth Madaan, Sydney Lewis and Gaciella Ndjampa. Hanson’s technology education teacher Daniel Meltsner is the coach of Hanson’s four VEX Robotics teams.
The Sportmanship Award went to General Smallwood Middle School’s team, the Trebuchets. The award is given to a team that earns the respect and admiration from volunteers and other competitors and is a model to follow. The Trebuchets were honored for being courteous, helpful and respectful. They demonstrated excitement and enthusiasm during the competition.
Team members include seventh graders Avery Logan, Emma Shumpert and Nathan Brough. The team coaches are computer teacher Jeff Gruszecki and Ian Hall.
North Point High School’s Meme team was named Tournament Champions. The team is made up of freshman Christopher Moreno, freshman Max Stine, junior Alexander Booth, sophomore Tyler Ulmschneider, junior Tyler Cataldo and sophomore Nishil Patel. The team’s coaches are Daryl Brammer and Tom Stine.
The Delta team of North Point earned the Design Award for its organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management and team organization. The team is comprised of freshman Kritchanan Yampai, junior Zaahid Ramakdawala, sophomore Andrew Fan, junior Jabari Grubb, freshman Jafari Townsell, freshman Ethan Cox, freshman Angelo Capati and freshman Ariana Capati. The team coaches are North Point teachers Melanie Cole and Timothy Yauch.
Teams from La Plata, Maurice J. McDonough, St. Charles, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools also competed in the event. Middle school teams that also participated included Milton M. Somers, Theodore G. Davis, Benjamin Stoddert and Mattawoman.