Sunday, March 13, 2016

A (Tiring) Day of Robotics at Javits

Masters of ceremonies Mareen and John flank one of my favorite coaches, Eric Greene, who ended up winning the Championship after 14 years as a coach. He will be taking his team to St. Louis for the internationals. Retired NYC teacher and master coach Veryl Greene (no relation) mentored the team.
Congrats to Eric Greene and mentor Veryl Greene (no relation) for winning the New York City FLL championship yesterday. Eric, after 14 years of coaching, is taking his school from St. Albans, Queens to the international event in St. Louis.

Boy am I wiped. I dragged myself into the house at 7 last night without chills, without a voice and very hungry. This was my 15th year at a FIRST LEGO League robotic championship, the last 14 as volunteer. I became a volunteer for FLL soon after I retired in 2002, so I am pretty attuned to the support and lack of from the DOE over this time. I'll get to this in a followup post but first I posted this on facebook with my photos:
Oh what a day yesterday at the FIRST Lego league (age 9-14) 80 team event, Junior FLL (age 6-9) and 3 day first robotics high schools from as far away as London, Brazil and Far Rockaway at Javits convention center Saturday March 12.
To make it clear, there are 3 concurrent events.

FIRST LEGO League was an all-day event on Saturday with 80 teams, including public, charter, private, neighborhood home-schooled teams and for profit orgs where parents pay to enroll their kids on a team. I have seen the public school share of teams drop drastically over the years I have been involved, which spans the years from Harold Levy through Bloomberg and Di Blasio. I will address this issue in another post, especially since Carmen Farina spoke and lamented the fact that the event was not dominated by public schools -- she should look in the mirror if she's looking for a reason.

The high school kids (FRC), who come from many public NYC schools  began to arrive Thursday evening  to set up their pit areas. Friday was for practice and tuning their robots. Saturday and Sunday was the competition. I went back to the FRC pits on Friday and was surprised to see a team from Far Rockaway HS Campus, the Queens HS for Information, Research and Technology. The students beamed when my pal Tony Homsey told them we were from Rockaway. I asked if they knew Jeff Kaufman who is not teaching socials studies and coding at the school and they were so excited at the mention of his name. Saturday Jeff,  who is running on the MORE slate for Exec Bd at Large, did come and we had a great chat with a lot of insight about a small school with a good principal who Jeff admires. In all my years of knowing Jeff I have never heard him say nice things about his principal. This guy must be gold. Jeff introduced me to the coach who also happens to read my School Scope column in The Wave. What a task he has taken on to do this work. The team, which won the FIRST rookie award, is called Birch Bots. Here are some photos I took of the team:

A team member collecting memos.
So many people I knew stopped by the pit admin station where I was on duty all day, including Sterling Roberson from the UFT. Farina spoke at the opening but I was too busy to go over and hear her.  My question to Farina and the UFT:  Do they offer real support or a photo op?

More photos:
 Here are some Junior FLL photos at their exhibition for ages 6-9.

The participation medals - long time Staten Island coach Ray Cottrell, center
Old pal Laura Allen of RoboFun stopped by.

Popular every year: Talking robot
The pits
It really was the longest day. After a Friday night of revelry at the
The kids at the RTC
Rockaway Theatre Company gala event at El Caribe, it was out of the house at 6:30 to pick up fellow volunteer Tony Homsey. We didn't get back to Rockaway until 7 PM. I had and have no voice, which my wife is celebrating.

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