May 15, 2014 at 8:02 AM
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Our Lady of Peace Academy held a pep rally for the Panther Power Robotics Team on Wednesday. This weekend, the team will compete at the F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League North American Open Championships at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, Calif.
The pep rally began with a greeting by Alys Tyler, head coach of The Panthers Power Robotics Team. She explained that the Panthers would be competing against 75 other teams from the United States, Mexico, Korea, and Puerto Rico, and that they would be judged by FLL core values, team building, robot design, and robot competition. She thanked attendees for their generous support of the Academy’s many fundraisers for the trip to California.
The Panthers then performed the presentation skit of their project, the Stickler of Safety.
“This year’s theme was ‘Nature’s Fury.’ They had to research storms, their causes and effects. They had to come up with an innovative solution to prepare, stay safe, or rebuild. They interviewed the Chief Buccelli [of New Providence]. He gives his patrol four-foot wooden poles to go through flood waters,” said Alys Taylor, head coach of The Panthers Power Robotics.
The Panthers, having learned these wooden sticks could mold, warp, or break, invented the Stickler of Safety, or SOS. The SOS, a 4-foot long, non-conductive PVC pipe, will help first responders gauge the depth of flood waters, find obstructions in the water, and detect open manholes.
The sixth grade followed the Panthers' presentation with a performance of Pharrell William’s “Happy,” after which Father Bill conducted a group prayer. The cheerleaders performed, and then Alys Tyler thanked everyone for attending and wished the team good luck. Principal Thomas Berrios concluded by seconding Mrs. Tyler’s thanks to the parents.
The team, consisting of students from grades four through eight, has been active for five years. This year, they qualified to compete in their first national event after winning the Champions Awards at both the Regional FLL Robotics Competition and the State FLL Robotics Competition.
“The robotics program adds an element of the real world to their education,” said Father Bill Mahon. “And it gives them an outlet to do something different than what the classroom does.”