CLINTON TWP., NJ – The first Rotary Robotics Tournament here brought fun and excitement to STEM on Saturday as 45 students representing six schools participated at North Hunterdon High School.

The competition was created by North Hunterdon High School student Alexander Kmosko and North Hunterdon Rotary to be accessible and simple, while providing students with the ability to learn about robotics and have fun. Robots designed and programmed by each team raced head-to-head throughout the morning, balancing speed and precision to tackle each course.

“The robotics competition provided Hunterdon students with dual challenges,” said Woodglen School Enrichment Coordinator James Peralta. “As I looked around the cafeteria, it was a buzz with fast moving robots and excited students. The races required a tightly restricted build of their robots and a difficult programming task. The kids put their brains and hands to work to get the job done.”

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Alexander wants to encourage more young people to get involved with STEM and robotics. Alexander's BallBusters team won the USA National RoboCupJr Soccer Championships several times, and represented the USA at the World Championships for the last five years. He was team captain for the World Champion super-team with his team-mates from China and Japan, in Hefei China in 2015 and again in Leipzig Germany in 2016. Hewanted to bring the fun and excitement he had competing in similar tournaments back to Hunterdon.

 “The tournament brought the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology,” said Literacy Specialist/Gifted and Talented Teacher Denise Grimm. “It provided my students with the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to expose Clinton Public School students to a STEM event like this.”

The winning team was Delaware Valley’s “Bro-Bots” with Dan Sullivan, Kyle Hassold, Miles Hudgins, Drew Bella, Ashley Diem and Team Mentor Justin Montgomery. They earned a $3,600 3D Printer for their school, together with individual trophies.

Second place was Ethel Hoppock Middle School’s team “Slow Poke” with Ryan Alport, Jack Glaser, Derek Gloss, John Morris and Mike Petrie with mentors Heidi Alport and Mike Petrie.

Third was Delaware Valley’s “Pac-Man” with Ryan Vackner, Sam Robinson, Zack Nekola, Cricket Borrero and Team Mentor Justin Montgomery.

“We were thrilled to host this event to hopefully plant the seeds of science and technology to stimulate the imaginations of our youth for years to come,” North Hunterdon Rotary President Jim Murray said.  

President of Argus Technology Chris Kmosko, who was a co-sponsor of the tournament, said, “We need to excite and educate our youth about science and technology for them and our country to be competitive in the global economy of today and in the future.”