Shelton robotics gears up for competition

On an afternoon where most kids would be online while their parents binge on Netflix, a small band of techies were gearing up, making plans, and designing the best robots to step out and strut their stuff.

Shelton’s First Lego League and First Robotics Challenge met at Shelton High school with advisors and mentors to prepare to compete in two tournaments.

Shelton Robotics Advisor John Niski said the advisors and mentors were working with middle school robotics teams as part of the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Program. He said the teams are in the mid-season and have been working hard for the past four to five weeks, in order to get ready for a competition on Nov. 12 at Career High School in New Haven and another on Nov. 19 at Shelton High School. There will be 24 teams competing at Shelton High School, Niski said.

Robotics Advisor Josh Cayer and mentor/coach Bob Kryger worked with the students that day. Although sometimes hard and frustrating, most of the children said they enjoyed learning about robotics.

Niski and mentors worked with the younger children. Jack Ryon, in fifth grade, said he finds robotics interesting, complicated and also exciting.

Perry Hill student Alexander Guerra was mentored by Shelton High School student Jacob Zamani. Guerra said he likes the club because it’s not just for building Legos but for learning to work together. Zamani discussed the benefit of helping the younger students.

“It’s a lot of work to have to deal with all these kids every week, but in the end, it’s worth it to see how far they’ve come and how much they succeed.”

Mentor and parent Peyman Zamani assisted Mary Pavliouk design blocks on the computer to program the robot the children created named EV3. He said the robotics team meets every Saturday to prepare for regional and state championships.

Pavliouk said she appreciates the teamwork needed to build a robot.

“It’s like really interesting to do it and requires a lot of teamwork, “Mary said.

In the next room, the eighth grade team prepares to compete in New Haven. Connor Habrect worked closely with advisor Cayer and mentor Kryger on the team’s robot. Habrecht elaborated on how the First Lego League (FLL) program helps build skills for children

“FLL is beautiful in a way that it’s stressful; it teaches you how to learn with real life scenarios”,

Habrecht said.” You will work with people that are your friends and work towards goals.”

Habrecht works on the team with Cayer’s daughter, Jules Cayer. Jules said FIRST in the Lego league means For Initiation and Recognition of Science and Technology.

The competition is broken up into various parts which includes: building the robot, the team presentation and the research project. The mentors said there is a lot to offer children in the program. Kryger said he has mentored for the past four years. He said the robotics is a great way for students to get hands-on, engineering, teamwork and presentation skills. Emily Spoldi has mentored children for the past 11 years working on the computers.

Parent Dana Daxner said she believes the program is awesome. She said her son Jake Daxner was in the program three years before going into the high school robotics program. Daxner said her daughter Katie Daxner has also been in the program three years. Katie worked the computer near her friend Diya Patel.

“Lego League is really fun and I enjoy it a lot,” Katie said. Patel agreed that she too thought it was fun while learning about robotics with friends.