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Traphagen Students Prepare for Inaugural Competition in FIRST Lego League Robotics Event

Ten students in grades 3-4 have been preparing for the Westchester County-wide FIRST Lego League (FFL) competition since the start of the school year. With guidance from Team Robocracy, a group of students from neighboring districts such as Chappaqua, Ossining and Yorktown, the Traphagen Elementary students researched topics and developed presentations and modules for their upcoming competition on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Traphagen students will be competing under the team name of “Mt. Vernon Bots.”

The FFL event includes three portions, including a robotics demonstration, role play and a poster presentation, each followed by a Q&A with a panel of judges, including Traphagen School Principal Carol Quinones-Smith. For the role-playing portion, the students researched scientific challenges and selected space debris as their topic for the competition.

“I was really excited to join this team because I really like Legos and I wanted to learn more and be a part of the after-school program. The coolest thing I’ve learned so far is talking about space junk and learning ways we can clear out space junk in the world,” said Christian Harney, grade 4.

The students also created trifold posters outlining the team’s core values: Discovery, Innovation, Fun, Impact, Teamwork, and Inclusion.

Inclusion was one of the most common themes among students’ responses when asked about their involvement in Traphagen’s Robotics Club. Many of them shared stories about the friendships they’ve made and the community among their fellow students and teachers created through this experience.

“This is my son’s first year in the Mount Vernon City School District and this experience has been so beneficial for him in making new friends and helping with the transition into a new school,” said the mother of third-grade student Adam Munoz.

“We started small, so we could really teach them and they could have the opportunity to really learn what it’s like to collaborate with one another and really maximize their skills for innovation and creativity,” said Principal Quinones-Smith. “So, they meet on Tuesdays with Ms. White, who leads this group, and it has been quite amazing; they’ve had quite the experience. The team from Chappaqua has been instrumental in this and it has been a great collaborative effort. We really wanted our children to have experiences like other school districts.”

At the team’s final meeting before the competition, the students successfully demonstrated their robot’s ability to complete tasks – all built using Legos.