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GNPS Teams Compete in FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition

Approximately 80 GNPS students in grades 4-8 with the team mentors at the FIRST Lego Robotics competition at Mineola HS

On Jan. 21, more than 80 students from the Great Neck Public Schools competed in the FIRST® LEGO® League Regional Competition at Mineola High School. The District was represented by eight teams of students in grades 4-8, including four elementary robotics teams plus teams from both middle schools. At the conclusion of the competition, three GNPS teams were announced as award winners and one team will advance to the Long Island Regional Championship in Hicksville.

FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) events require teams to navigate their robot through a series of missions on a competition table, as well as present to judges an innovative solution to a problem based on this year's theme. Teams are evaluated in four areas: Core Values, Innovation Project, Robot Design, and Robot Game.

Members of the North Middle Robotics Team and team mentors holding their awards

North Middle Blazing Legos Team 15420 was presented the Innovation Project Award for utilizing diverse resources, conducting strong research, and finding a creative solution to their problem, which was effectively communicated to judges. This team award, coupled with their robot’s performance score, qualifies the Blazing Legos to advance to the Long Island Championship.

Members and team mentors from Team Pioneer holding their award

Additionally, Great Neck Pioneer Team 49906 from the elementary robotics program was awarded the Core Values Award in recognition of the team’s enthusiasm and sportsmanship, and the North Middle Blazer Bots 14317 earned the Engineering Excellence Award for their robot design and innovative project solution.

The Elementary FLL Robotics Program is offered through the GNPS Recreation Department and brings together fourth and fifth graders from all four elementary schools. The FLL teams at North Middle School and South Middle School are conducted as after-school clubs.

“It’s encouraging to see so many of our younger students embarking on a path towards excellence in the field of STEM education,” says John Motchkavitz, lead mentor for South High Rebel Robotics Team 2638 and coordinator of the District’s robotics program. “Learning the important skills of teamwork, problem solving and collaboration while also having fun is really the model of education that we want to emphasize with our student engineers.”

Following the FLL program for grades 4-8, GNPS offers robotics teams for grades 9-12 with North High’s team competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge, and South High’s team competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

This year, four high school seniors from Rebel Robotics served as student mentors for the FLL elementary teams, imparting their knowledge and experience to fourth and fifth-graders. “It’s rewarding to watch our high school seniors take on a leadership role and inspire our elementary students with their passion for engineering,” added Mr. Motchkavitz.

Middle school FLL team mentors are Dr. Zachary Boyt and Thomas Livingston at North Middle School, and Brendan Beutel and Nick Haramis for South Middle School. Elementary FLL team mentors are Courtney Beavan, Brendan Beutel, Allison Buser and Robin Wilensky, along with high school student mentors Trevor Boshnack, Shreya Deochand, Beatrice Malfi, and Bernice Wong.

two female elementary students and one male elementary student at the robotics competition table