Twenty-one teams from 12 Charles County Public middle and high schools competed in the 2016 Southern Maryland VEX League Robotics Championship held Feb. 6 at the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) La Plata campus. The challenge is split into two levels of competition – one for middle school teams and one for high school teams. The VEX League is sponsored by CSM and its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) partners to support teams in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.
Six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams qualified to compete in the VEX Robotics Maryland State Championship. Teams that earn the Excellence, Tournament Champion, Tournament Finalist and Design awards at the regional level advance to the state event. The middle school state competition is Feb. 20 at Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore County. The high school state competition is scheduled for March 11 and 12 at Stevenson University, also in Baltimore County.
Two teams from Piccowaxen Middle School received the Tournament Champion award among competing middle school teams. Piccowaxen’s A-Team and Motorized Madness teams competed together in an alliance and advanced to the state event. Based on how the challenge is structured, more than one team can be named Tournament Champion.
This year’s challenge, titled “Nothing But Net,” was divided into qualifying rounds, team alliance selection rounds and elimination rounds in which teams maneuver their robots in a 12-foot by 12-foot square field. The object of the challenge is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring balls and bonus balls in low and high goals, and by elevating robots to established climbing zones.
Students on the A-Team include Piccowaxen seventh graders Matthew Hale and Hargunn Sandhu, and eighth grader Cameron Miskell. Members of the Motorized Madness team from Piccowaxen include seventh graders Sydney Robertson and Cheyanne Milbrook, and eighth graders Nathaniel Lednum and Sierra Sanderson. Sandra Chisholm, a computer teacher at Piccowaxen, coaches the teams.
A team from John Hanson Middle School, the Fire Bagels, earned a Tournament Finalist award as part of a team alliance with the SPEAR-it team from SPEAR Academy. This award goes to the top two runner-up alliance teams, which also compete at the state level. Members of the Fire Bagels team are Hanson eighth graders Cody Flerlage, Christopher Moreno and Christopher Rand-Crawford. Coach of the team is Daniel Meltsner, a technology education teacher at Hanson.
Another Hanson team, the We’re Vexy and We Know It, received the Design Award among competing middle school teams. The Design award is given to a team that demonstrates an organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management and team organization. As recipients of the Design Award, the team advances to the state competition. Team members include Hanson seventh graders Yachi Madaan, Alyssa Norris, Andrew Parent and Jacob Stern. Meltsner also serves as the team’s coach.
At the high-school level, a team from North Point High School earned the Tournament Champion Award as part of an alliance with two other teams from Calvert High School and advances to the state tournament next month. Students on the North Point team are sophomore Tyler Cataldo and freshmen Andrew Fan, Caleb Griffith, Nishil Patel and Tyler Ulmschneider. Team coaches are Janet Bondelid, an electronics teacher at North Point, and Melanie Cole, a business education teacher at North Point.
The team from North Point also received the Energy Award, which is based on team enthusiasm displayed at the event. Teams that receive this award are recognized for demonstrating passion for robotics and energy throughout the competition.
The Angle Warriors team from La Plata High School earned the Tournament Finalist award as part of an alliance with a team from Calvert High School and a team from Great Mills High School. As a Tournament Finalist team, they will compete at the state competition. Student team members are freshmen Kenyon Burgess and Jarrett Mulloy, sophomores Damani Barnes, Madison Calomeris and Ethan Kane, and juniors Elizabeth Beaton, Tara Cecil and Millicent Szalapski. The team coach is Garrick Baker, a technology education teacher at La Plata.
Four other Charles County Public Schools teams received awards during the competition. The Mustache Cash Stash team from Thomas Stone High School received the Create Award among competing high school teams. This award is given to the team that has a robot design that incorporates a creative engineering solution to the design challenges of the game. Team members include freshman Sean Huber, sophomores Emily Parent and Josh Riddle, junior Greg Johnson and senior Ryan Riddle. Coach of the team is Joseph Daversa, a technology education teacher at Stone.
The Holograms team from Maurice J. McDonough High School received the Judges Award among competing high school teams. This award is given to a team the judges determine deserves recognition for exemplary effort and perseverance at the challenge and recognizes team accomplishments throughout the season. McDonough junior Chadeya Miller is the sole member of the team. Jeffrey Wester, a science teacher at McDonough, coaches the team.
The VEX Masters team from Hanson received the Sportsmanship Award among competing middle school teams. This award is presented to the team that earns the respect and admiration from volunteers and other competing teams at the event. Teams are chosen for being courteous, helpful and respectful and demonstrating excitement and enthusiasm throughout the event. Students on the team include Hanson sixth graders Graciella Ndjampa, Sydney Lewis, Parth Madaan and Kritchanin Yampai. Meltsner also coaches this team.
A team from Milton M. Somers Middle School received the Judges Award among teams competing at the middle-school level. Students on the team include sixth grader Nicholas Summers and eighth graders Robby Bartlett, Nate Daetwyler, Ashton Gordon and Jose Martinez. Coach of the team is Sarah Williams, a mathematics teacher at Somers.
Teams from Theodore G. Davis, Mattawoman, General Smallwood and Benjamin Stoddert middle schools, and St. Charles High School also competed in the event. A total of 47 teams from the tri-county area participated in the competition.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.