Brooklyn’s ‘Nerd Herd’ advances to robot regionals

An army of robots put through their paces at NYU-Poly

March 11, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle

On Saturday, hundreds of high school students and an army of rolling robots filled the gym at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Downtown Brooklyn to participate in NYC FIRST’s robotics competition.

As supporters cheered them on, thirty six teams from the city and Long Island put their shopping-cart-sized mechanisms through a series of challenges in the FIRST Tech Challenge Regional Championship. The teams have been developing their robots, with the guidance of adult mentors, for months.

Brooklyn’s St. Edmund Prep’s “Nerd Herd,” won the “Alliance Second Pick” award, and will be one of eight teams from Saturday’s event advancing to the East Super-Regional Tournament in York, Pennsylvania on April 3. There they will compete to represent the NYC region at the FTC World Championship on April 23 – 26 in St. Louis. The Nerd Herd is coached by Erica Barbier. The team, which has a solid record of winning tournaments, sold lollipops, applied for grants and held a fashion show to raise funds for their school’s STEM robotics club.

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“The St. Edmund Prep Nerd Herd is truly proud of their accomplishments this year,” said Ms. Barbier.  “Last year, as rookies, they learned so much from other teams; their goal this year was to use what they learned and share it with others. Hopefully, they will have the opportunity to go far this season.”

Other Brooklyn teams participating on Saturday included: Twisted Metal, from City Polytechnic High School; Cephalopods, from John Dewey High School; and Teechnetics, from It Takes a Village Academy (ITAVA).

In the competition, teams designed, built and programmed their robots to compete in an “alliance format” against other teams. In an alliance matchup, two randomly selected teams are paired together to play a match against a second alliance.

This year’s challenge theme was ‘FTC BLOCK PARTY!sm’, played on a 12’ x 12’ square arena on which teams programmed their robots to navigate, perform tasks, and place plastic blocks into different areas, such as in a pendulum. An IR Beacon navigation aid was randomly placed on the game mat.

During the End Game, in addition to placing blocks in the scoring areas, robots earned points by raising their alliance flag up a flagpole, raising themselves off of the ground using a bridge pull-up bar, and ending the match with a balanced pendulum.

NYU-Poly’s K-12 STEM education program is FIRST’s New York City partner. NYU-Poly’s School of Engineering supports robotics competitions throughout the five boroughs, and brings faculty, undergraduates and graduates together with local teachers and students to develop lessons, creative hands-on projects, and experiments.

FIRST is an international nonprofit that inspires students to get involved in science and technology and prepare them for jobs of the future.

The following teams will advance to the East Super-Regional Tournament in York, Pennsylvania on April 3rd:

  • Robogamers – Independent team, New York, NY (Inspire Award Winner)
  • Legotronettes – Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Garden City, NY (Inspire Award Finalist 2)
  • Titanium Tigers – Francis Lewis HS, Fresh Meadows, NY (Winning Alliance First Pick)
  • Bionica – Hewlett HS, Hewlett, NY (Inspire Award Finalist 3)
  • SEP Nerd Herd – St. Edmund Preparatory HS, Brooklyn, NY (Winning Alliance Second Pick)
  • Icebreakers – Girl Scouts of Nassau County, Merrick, NY (Think Award Winner)
  • Atomic Theory – The Dalton School, New York, NY (Finalist Alliance Captain)
  • Quantum Mechanics – The Dalton School, New York, NY (Finalist Alliance First Pick)

Updated March 12, 2014, with quote and photo of the “Nerd Herd.”

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