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November 18, 2017

STEM-focused club is first in the league of fun learning for area students

March 3, 2016

Science, technology, engineering and math – STEM – is not only a big part of the educational program at Duanesburg Elementary School (DES), it is also at the heart of a fun afterschool activity the school hosts for students from the Duanesburg Central School District and neighboring communities. Duanesburg is the home of an active and growing chapter of the FIRST Lego League club, an afterschool activity for students in grades 5 through 8.

The FIRST Lego League meets after school throughout the year to focus not only on robotics, but equally important, to improve teamwork, communication and critical and creative thinking. DES teacher Geoffrey Switts and parent Walt Silva advise the club, and they are also mentored by the Schoharie Mohawk Initiative for Science and Technology, in which Silva is active. The Duanesburg Educational Foundation helps sponsor the club.

Two student teams from Duanesburg’s FIRST Lego League club performed well at the Hudson Valley FIRST Lego League tournament at Amsterdam High School on Jan. 16. Of a field of 12 teams, one team finished second overall in the challenge and both teams scored more than 300 points during the Robot Game. Only one other scored above 300 points in the competition. Advisor Silva noted, “This year was just the second time that the teams participated in a FIRST Lego League challenge. They had a great time and learned a lot.”

With a theme of “Trash Trek,” the students had to devise solutions to trash disposal problems, then program a Lego robot to complete a series of tasks on a game table using Lego pieces as trash, recyclable materials and compost.

Teams were judged on their core values, design, robot’s performance and solutions they developed for new ways to handle real-world trash. They were also judged on how well they worked together throughout the competition.

Congressman Paul Tonko and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who are also both trained engineers, were on hand for the tournament awards presentation to the Duanesburg teams.

“Duanesburg wants to encourage both females and males to challenge themselves, particularly in the fields of math, science and engineering,” said Duanesburg Central School District Superintendent Christine Crowley. “We are fortunate to receive mentor support from engineers, Board of Education support and financial support from local organizations.”  View photos below.