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March 2017

Hommocks Middle School robotics team with their 1st Place trophy for Core Values. (Pictured l-r): Coach Jill Bock, Sary Barrios, Rachel Patrick, Jake Blechman, Matthew Lewis, Jerry Orans, Cornelius Reavy & Coach Stefan Birek. Photo Credit: Kristin Patrick

STEM Alliance Robotics Team Takes Home Trophy

Teamwork, respect, inclusion and fun are some of the core values at the heart of First Lego® League.  The HMX Roaring Robots – sponsored and led by the STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck – exemplified that spirit as the judges awarded them the top prize in the Core Values category at the Hudson Valley First Lego® League robotics competition in Chappaqua.


Each year, thousands of teams worldwide compete in First Lego® League, striving to complete work in three judged categories: The Robot Games (robot building & programming), The Project (identifying and solving a problem through innovation), and Core Values (adhering to a set of defined values, rules and conduct). In their second year of competition, the HMX Roaring Robots, made up entirely of students from Hommocks Middle School in the Mamaroneck School District, consisted of two teams working side by side to prepare for their events.  This Coopertition® — defined by the FIRST organization as “unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition” — was on full display as the two teams advised and consulted with each other, shared a robot gaming table to practice and supported each other’s efforts, all while forming a strong bond that transcended team boundaries.


The projects the two teams created were wildly different.  Based on this year’s theme of Animal Allies, the teams were tasked with finding innovative solutions to improve conditions for animals and the people who interact with them.  Squad 1 created K9 Camina, a phone app and computer game that encourages dog owners to give their pets more exercise.  Squad 2, meanwhile, designed the Tortuga Dome, a device that shields baby sea turtles from the ill effects of human light pollution.


STEM Alliance volunteer Jill Bock and Hommocks Science Department head Stefan Birek serve as the team’s coaches.  They selected the students through tryouts in the fall and led bi-weekly team practices with both squads.  In addition to the STEM Alliance, the Blechman Family, the Bock Dresner Family, the Patrick Family, the Reavy Pannell Family, the Sukhatme Family, Next Level Day Camps, the Orans Family’s Quisisana Resort and the Larchmont Volunteer Fire Department Hose Co. No. 2 all served as financial sponsors.


“I am simply amazed by the work these kids do,” said Coach Bock. “This competition tests their robotics skills and so much more — innovative problem solving, research, presentation abilities, sportsmanship and collaboration.  These are real life skills that help prepare them for high school, college and beyond.”


The STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to organize STEM education and enrichment initiatives in order to inspire a community where all are empowered to embrace STEM passions to solve problems. For more information visit    www.lmstemalliance.org.