By Sara Greenberg
On Sunday, February 2nd, the Leffell Lions robotics team traveled to Saquoit, New York to compete in the First Tech Challenge Robotics League, and returned with a trophy. The competition is held annually, with teams paired up and challenged to collaborate to create a robot that could most efficiently collect and deposit blocks in a certain manner.
The Leffell team had been building its robot for months prior to the competition, “[meeting] for about two hours on two different days during the week… Leading up to a competition, we meet everyday the week before. It’s all about spending the time researching the other groups and seeing how they build things and trying to mimic what they do, or seeing ways that we can improve it,” says High School Computer Science Teacher and Robotics Team Advisor William Jamieson.
After all their time together, the team established close bonds. As Robotics Team Captain and Junior Maya Yaroni stated, “they’re like my family now… in the beginning of last year, none of us were friends. We just started hanging out together and we found different things in common and now we’re all just best friends.” As a first year faculty member, Jamieson mentioned that he was able to slip right into the tightly knit group without a problem. “[There was] such a group core dynamic already in place and I was kind of just having to insert myself into that, but they never made me feel like an outsider or anything.”
The Lions placed 11th overall in the competition out of 28 teams, but they also won the ‘Motivation Award’, which rewarded the team for motivating other teams around them. Jamieson noted that “the group members themselves were always very upbeat, always trying to help the other teams.”
According to Yaroni, at last year’s competition, the team desperately needed a switch piece in order to compete, and only one other team in the competition had an extra, which they gave to the Lions, allowing them to come in fourth place. This year, the team brought an array of extra parts to pay it forward if any rookie team needed a hand. In fact, the judges referred to the team as a ‘part shop’.
Winning this award reflects the values of the Leffell School. As Jamieson said, “I think that it speaks very deeply in the sense that we are trying to not only better ourselves, but also better our competition, because by also our competition helping us as well, we only come out stronger.”
The team accepted the Motivation Award with great pleasure, and Yaroni described the experience as incredible. “We’ve been working really hard for the past few years, and it’s like the first substantial award that we’ve won… They read our team number and we all just freaked out,” said Yaroni.