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Traphagen Students Participate in FIRST LEGO League Tournament – a First for Traphagen and the Mount Vernon City School District

LEGO Team Traphagen Elementary School students competed January 19th in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Tournament, the third annual competition that represented 12 schools from all over Westchester County, at Chappaqua’s Robert E. Bell Middle School.

It was a first for the team of 10 third-through sixth grade students, Traphagen, and the Mount Vernon City School District. Now that Traphagen has brought the initial team, the District is anticipating more teams to compete next year and in future years.

“The Mount Vernon City School District is extremely proud of our Traphagen students, who today forged a new path for future students in the District to choose a challenging, rewarding and fun way to learn,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton.

The goal of the competition is to teach elementary and middle school-aged students how to use science, engineering and math skills to solve real world problems. Winners of the tournament qualified for a national competition.

Traphagen students competed under the team name of “Mt. Vernon Bots.” Although, the Mt. Vernon Bots didn’t place in the competition, the students earned valuable experience and knowledge in programming and building robots for next year’s competition.

The FFL event included three portions: Robot Design, Core Values, and Project Demonstration – each followed by a Q&A with a panel of judges, including Traphagen School Principal Carol Quinones-Smith.

Third-grader Cayden Reed ran Traphagen’s robot through a series of tasks for the judges in a series of three rounds of two-and-a-half-minute performances.

“I like to program, I like to build robots and I like to find out about new experiences,” Cayden said. “I like seeing real problems in space and coming up with solutions to the problems.”

Kiana Spence, a fourth-grader on the team, likes to rotate through the aspects of the program – from coding to building to researching science. “What I really like about this program is it makes you think ahead,” she said. “It’s about opening up your mind to new abilities and challenges.”

For the Project Demonstration, the students researched scientific challenges and selected space debris as their topic for the competition. The students also created trifold posters outlining the team’s core values: Discovery, Innovation, Fun, Impact, Teamwork, and Inclusion.

At the beginning of the school year, Traphagen entered into a unique partnership with the FIRST LEGO League Team Robocracy, comprised of high school students from Chappaqua, Lakeland and other surrounding schools, to offer a Robotics Club.

Each week, students from all participating schools – as well as parent representatives and faculty advisors – meet to help students explore the world of STEM through building, programming, and research.

The team is led by Christine White, fourth grade teacher and advisor to the Robotics Club; Alexandre Eichenberger, Team Robocracy Parent and Co-coach; and Marcia Manzueta, Team Robocracy Parent and Co-coach.

“These boys and girls have been working so hard all year and today they came out here to compete and they certainly did,” White said. “I am so proud of every student on our team. Not only did they compete, but they did very well and they all had fun. We are looking forward to our next competition and we are also looking forward to seeing more teams from Mount Vernon join us in future competitions.”

Team members included: Adam Munoz, grade 3, Cayden Reed, grade 3; Gianna Stanford, grade 3; Maya Dowlatram, grade 4; Malachi Nugent, grade 4; Kiana Spence, grade 4; Christian Harney, grade 4; Ciarra Graham, grade 4; Kazia Adjei, grade 5; and Audrey Adjei, grade 6.

With more than 8,000 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to its children as well as developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.