Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti was visited by a group of State Champion robotics students and their coaches last week to discuss their advancement to the National Robotics tournament in St. Louis Missouri next year.
“State Champs? That’s big, really big,” said Mayor Lauretti as the team introduced themselves and showcased their new trophy. “When one of our teams wins a state championship, I’ve got to know all of the details.”
One of the team’s two coaches, Ashish Dalvi said the team is coming off two qualifying victories in Shelton and another in New Haven.
“They were one of 48 teams who competed at Shelton High School so their victory and then moving onto the National level is huge,” said Dalvi.
The SIStematic team is made up of only 7th graders, which include Austin D’Aulizio, Connor Dapp, Diya Patel, Josh Mallette, Katie Daxner, Michael Caruso, Ria Dalvi, and Shayaan Dabiran. All of the students split up the duties required to have a successful team.
Coach of another Shelton team called the Circuit Breakers, Josh Cayer was present when SIStematic had the chance to meet the mayor and said the work put in by all of the students in Shelton is what makes the difference.
“It’s important to state how much time and effort went into this,” said Cayer. “The preparation for competition starts in early September where we (All Shelton robotics teams) meet at the high school for four hours every Saturday. Then it begins two hours a night and then it’s four hours a night and six hours a Saturday and before you know it it’s 10 or 12 hours a week all dedicated to the goal of making it to nationals.”
The team’s hours of work went towards the three portions the competition was broken up into: Building a robot with legos that can do various tasks on a 4×8 mat, a research project focused on human/animal interactions and one issue deriving from those interactions, and a teamwork presentation.
As the team gathered in the Mayor’s office and let him hold their Lego trophy, they explained the human/animal interaction issue they chose which focused on dolphins. The team devised a plan to put aluminum beads on nylon nets to help dolphins detect fishermen’s presence and ultimately swim around them rather than being unintentionally caught.
“When dolphins swim into nets or are unintentionally caught it’s called a ‘bycatch’,” explained Diya Patel of SIStematic.
The team explained that after doing research, they discovered that most nets commercial fishermen use are made out of nylon so dolphins do not detect them and therefor swim into them and are caught in their pursuit of other fish.
“To help solve this problem we created the ‘Alumin-eco net’,” said Connor Dapp of SIStematic. “With the aluminum beads in the cross-sections of the net, they’re able to detect that it’s there due to their echolocation bouncing off of it.”
The team has proven to have the robotics portion of the competition down and now are beginning to address the topic of funding their trip to St. Louis next year.
Dalvi said there isn’t an official amount that the team needs to raise yet, but have an estimate of nearly $25,000 total cost of sending the eight students and at least eight parents.
“It’s approximately $2,600 for one kid and parent to travel. It’s possible that a school representative may travel with us as well so the final cost hasn’t been clarified yet,” said Dalvi. We are still discussing with the school the budget and any contributions that can be put towards the trip… The rest of it will be up to us as volunteers, parents/coaches, and students to raise. It’s early and we’re still trying to calculate the final amount that we need to raise but come January we should have a more clear plan and we’ll get something out there.”