Local students take 2nd in Albany robotics competition

RIVERHEAD SCHOOL DISTRICT PHOTO | Jessica Juarez-Lopez (seated); back L-R: Nylejah Green, Perla Leon, and STEP Advisor Claire Yannacone.

Four local students took home second place in a robotics competition last month in Albany, Riverhead school officials announced last week.

The team designed and built a robot called Robo Blitz, which impressed the judges with its basketball-like skills.

“We were really excited when we found out we placed second,” said Perla Leon, a Riverhead High School student who served as the team’s industrial engineer. “It was really fun to build and program our robot…First we designed Robo Blitz using Lego Mindstorms software, and then we built him out of Legos, and, finally, we programmed his actions. He was programmed to take a ball out of a basket, travel over to another basket, and drop the ball into the basket.”

The March 30 competition was part of the district’s NY Science and Technology Entry Partnership, or STEP, program.

“The STEP program provides high quality Saturday enrichment courses led by college faculty,” school officials explained in a press release. “These courses include: communications, life skills, career awareness, leadership skills, computer applications, mathematics and biology, earth science, engineering, physics and robotics.”

The Riverhead team — made up of two more Riverhead High School students, Nylejah Green and Jessica Jarez-Lopez, as well as Dale Samuel, who is home schooled — took second place out of 11 regional teams that competed. Each student played a role in the project, Perla said. Nylejah served as the mechanical engineer. Jessica served as the electrical engineer. Dale was the computer engineer

College faculty members teach the Saturday STEP courses throughout the school year, and CSTEP — the college level STEP program — participants serve as mentors to the STEP participants, school officials said. Science teacher Claire Yannacone is the Riverhead STEP Advisor.

“I’m really proud of these girls, and I love it that they did so well,” Ms. Yannacone said.

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