Robotics Team to Compete in World Championships

February 28, 2013

La Plata Vex Robotics team to compete in world championships

A team of students from La Plata High School will compete at the 2013 Vex Robotics High School World Championship in April after being named tournament champions at the 2013 College of Southern Maryland Robotics Challenge Vex League Championship held Feb. 16 at the La Plata campus.

During the event, the top 15 ranked teams from qualification matches picked alliance partners from other teams to compete with in elimination rounds. The winners of the elimination rounds were named tournament champions. The “Angle Warriors – 5977A” team from La Plata partnered with the “A-Team” from Calvert High School to earn the champion title. Both teams advance to the national event scheduled for April 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif.

Members of the La Plata team are David Beaton, sophomore; Jacob Brezina, freshman; Peter Calomeris, sophomore; Emma Dawson, freshman; Dedra Hammond, junior; Thomas Hancock, freshman; Blaine Hoffman, sophomore; John Hungerford, sophomore; Cody McGinnis, sophomore; and Rusheme Richards, sophomore. The team sponsor is Garrick Baker, a technology and engineering teacher at La Plata.

Student teams from La Plata, Maurice J. McDonough, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools, and General Smallwood, Mattawoman and Piccowaxen middle schools participated in the event, which is part of CSM’s Institute of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (iSTEM). Teams competed in a VEX robotics game called “Sack Attack” which required them to maneuver their robots on a 12 x 12 playing field and perform tasks such as pick up bean bags and score them in goals on the field.

Several Charles County teams earned awards during the championship. In addition to being named tournament champions, the 5977A team from La Plata received the Excellence Award. This is the highest award presented in the tournament and is awarded to the team that exemplifies overall excellence in building a well-rounded Vex robotics program. The award is also given to the team that finishes in first place among the league rankings. During the qualifying matches leading up to the CSM event, the 5977A team went undefeated in 24 challenges.

The 5977A team also received $250 from the Charles County Technology Council, and the Robot Skills Champion and Judges Awards. The Robot Skills Champion Award is presented to the team with the top score in the robot skills challenge, and the Judges Award goes to a team the judges select based on criteria such as exemplary effort, team accomplishments and perseverance through the challenges.

Mattawoman Middle School’s “Mattawoman VEX” team received the Build Award at the event, which is given to a team that builds a quality competition robot. Team robots are evaluated by criteria such as robot strength, programming, robustness, performance and consistency. Team members are eighth graders Gregory Johnson, Thach-vu Nguyen, Joseph Perriello and Alexander Vossler. Team sponsor is Jeffrey Wester, an art and Gateway to Technology teacher at Mattawoman.

General Smallwood Middle School’s robotics team received the Judges Award among competing middle schools. This award goes to a team the judges select based on criteria such as exemplary effort, team accomplishments and perseverance through the challenges. Students on the team are eighth graders Seth Archie and T.J. Krauel, and seventh graders Dakota Knott, Reines Maliksi, and Andrew Wright. The team sponsor is Jeffrey Gruszecki, the Gateway to Technology teacher at Smallwood.

Maurice J. McDonough High School’s “Poets 1639A” team received the Against All Odds Award. This award is presented to a team that never gives up. The team started as part of a school class for a month, and later evolved into a lunchtime activity. Although the team’s robot was missing some parts in relation to computer programming, student members still competed in the event. The team is composed of sophomores Nathaniel Hills and Hunter Snapko, and junior Isabelle Browning. The sponsor of the team is Charles Centivany Jr., a science and Project Lead the Way teacher at McDonough.

A team from Piccowaxen Middle School earned the second place Amaze Award during the competition. This award is given to a team that has built a competition robot that demonstrates overall quality. The team also ranked first place among qualifying middle schools during league challenges. Team members are Andrew Fan, sixth grade; Tre Giannini, seventh grade; and eighth graders Andrew Kret, Brittany Mendez and Robert Yorio. The team sponsor is Michael Ficalora, a science teacher at Piccowaxen.

All competing teams from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties are part of the Southern Maryland VEX Robotics League, which is sponsored by the College of Southern Maryland and its STEM partners. High school, middle school, and home school teams in the tri-county area are eligible to join the league. From November to February, four league ranking sessions were planned and each team in the league was randomly assigned to play at three sessions. The top 15 ranked teams moved to the league championship level to compete for a spot in the world championships.

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