Fallsburg robotics team returns from international competition

FALLSBURG – “It was overwhelming for the students to enter Kentucky Exposition Center. You could fit both the Fallsburg Elementary and Jr. /Sr. High School Buildings into this vast space with room to spare,” exclaimed teacher Don Thomas.

He was recalling the moment the Fallsburg Junior High School Robotics Team of Landen Berry, Kai Schreier, Aiden Ferris and Oliver Norminton stepped onto the floor for the VEX Robotics World Championships on April 19 in Louisville. Fallsburg was the only middle school from New York State, and was among the top 3% of all teams worldwide from 15 different countries. In total, there were 180 middle school teams.

The three days of competition began with opening ceremonies that included a Parade of Nations. Each team worked with an alliance partner for each of ten rounds of competition and played against another randomly paired alliance team. On the first day Fallsburg was paired with teams from China, Mexico, and California—a totally new experience working with peers from different cultures.

FCSD Robotics Coach Don Thomas (left) poses with (left to right) Landen Berry, Oliver Norminton and parent volunteer Robert Scheier. In front of Mr. Scheier are his sons, Kai and Aiden Ferris.

The competition is designed to test each team’s proficiency in designing, building, programming, and driving a robot. During the actual competition, electrical and mechanical issues forced Fallsburg to completely rebuild their robot’s chassis (base and drivetrain). They finished with a record of 4 and 6 at the end of qualifiers and earned 52nd place in their division of 80.

The event closes each year with a reveal of the competition challenge for the next year. On the way home the students started to plan their strategy for the 2017-2018 VEX competition “In the Zone”. They are determined to increase their autonomous and driver control skills and become more competitive.
Support from the Sullivan County/Fallsburg community is greatly appreciated. The Robotics Team has two fantastic parent volunteers, enjoys significant community support, and invites people to share their knowledge of robotics, engineering, and programming.

“We would not have been nearly as successful without our parent volunteer Robert Schreier, who drove his vehicle to the event and transported all of our equipment,” Mr. Thomas said.

The Team welcomes sponsorships from businesses, Chambers of Commerce, service agencies and local and state government.

The team will be hosting their second annual regional competition on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at SUNY Sullivan. Contact Mr. Thomas by telephone/email at 845-434-6800 or dthomas@fallsburgcsd.net to find out how you and your business can sponsor the young people who are learning STEM and bringing international recognition to the Fallsburg and Sullivan County community.