The team from Massapequa High School brainstorms during the VEX...

The team from Massapequa High School brainstorms during the VEX Robotics Competition at Adelphi University in Garden City on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Robots designed by students from Long Island and beyond spent Saturday scooping up and tossing large yellow jacks and even bigger square orange cushions over a fence with abandon.

A few robots even attempted the hardest task at the VEX Robotics Competition: climbing one of the corner poles.

In the process, the teams, which competed at Adelphi University in Garden City, also had to outscore the robots on the other side of the barrier.

The robots were designed and driven by 34 teams of middle and high schoolers from more than 10 schools and institutions in Westchester, New York City and on Long Island.

The high scorer, who pushes the most jacks or squares into the opposite court and perhaps even sends the robot up the pole, wins the tournament award.

A judge, Martha Giraldo Riordan, associate director of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and the Science and Technology Entry Program at Adelphi, outlined some of the other awards, including ones for leadership, excellence and design and one for the math skills presented in a notebook outlining how the robot was built.

The competition’s organizer — the Greenville, Texas-based Robotics Education & Competition Foundation — says the contests help students develop the science, technology, engineering and math skills that future employers will desire.

Jaren Mills, 17, of Freeport High School, identified patience as one of the most important qualities he has learned, in addition to the presentation, explanatory and organizing skills needed to edit the notebook.

“Sometimes you want to throw things across the room because something’s not working; it’s like not getting angry, not getting upset, figuring out what you can do,” he said.

Melissa Zarate, 15, who attends East Rockaway High School, said she enjoys the problem-solving aspect of robot-building.

As for the notebook she worked on, it required reflection. “We describe, like, the thought process,” she said.

“I’ve been building stuff all my life,” said Scott Henneberger, 14, of Garden City High School. He noted the contest also required him to focus on coding and communication, including with allied teams.

“Sometimes you get in their way, and sometimes they get in your way,” said the future mechanical engineer.

The contest also included a ‘beat-the-clock’ event for solo performers and online tasks using animation.

This is the fourth time Adelphi has hosted the competition — one of more than 1,350 held in 40 countries with 16,000 teams, according to the organizer.

The VEX Robotic Competition winners:

  • Tournament Champions: Jericho High School’s teams #9932F and #9932E and the Harvey School in Katonah
  • Robotic Skill Champion: Massapequa High School team #9458
  • Judges Award – Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Queens team #699E
  • Distinguished Leadership Award – Massapequa High School team #9458C
  • Design Award – Thomas A Edison Career and Technical Education High School team #699Z
  • Excellence Award – Massapequa High School

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