Huntington fifth and sixth graders are ready for the City Shaper challenge

Huntington to Host FIRST LEGO League Tournaments

Huntington fifth and sixth graders are ready for the City Shaper challenge

January 24, 2020

The Huntington High School robotics program will play host to three FIRST LEGO League regional tournaments on Saturday and Sunday in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.

Teams from around the world comprised of students between the ages of 9-14 have eight weeks to build, test and program an autonomous robot using a LEGO Mindstorms computer platform to solve a set of missions in the robot game on a tabletop playing field.

Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School offers an exceptional FIRST LEGO League program. Team members are well-positioned to be the future stars of Huntington High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 5016, which has made a regular practice of qualifying for the world championships.

The STEM School’s FIRST LEGO League team members are ready to show Long Island just how talented they are. They are well prepared and ready to go.

“These teams have been preparing for months putting in countless hours after school and during their lunch periods to prepare for the competition, said Donna Moro, principal of Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. “It is a team effort in which students do the work. The coaches and mentors provide guidance, but the students work together to prepare not only their robot and programming, but also a project presentation.”

The STEM School’s fifth grade team consists of Ezra Oddoye, Joseph Conklin, Joey Perotti, Lily Buscemi, Veda Gross, Lauren Dopico, Sena Knopf, Jocelyn Thorbourne, Tim Tiliakos, David Cruz, Harold Jimenez Nunez and Marilyn Mendoza Virula

The STEM School’s sixth grade team consists of Mark Ingram, Alex Dumas, Presley Moss, Naomi Lyons, Chelsea Gordon, Ashley Alexis, Avery Joshua-Tor, Wynne Franciscovich, Luca Terrado and Kemar Miller.

“Our fifth grade team called ‘The Pond Squad,’ will be presenting their ideas about how to make Heckscher Park’s pond more eco-friendly,” Ms. Moro said. “Our sixth grade team, ‘The Conductors,’ will be presenting their ideas for water filters on commuter trains in order to reduce plastic waste.”

Three separate qualifying tournaments are set for Huntington High School this weekend. The first will be on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with the second one to run on Saturday from 1-6:30 p.m. and the third on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“In the past, our teams have performed well in the project competition,” Ms. Moro said. “Last year our sixth grade team made it to the Long Island championship round based on their strong showing in the project category. We are expecting another strong showing this year!”

The first qualifying tournament was held at William Floyd High School on January 11. The final three qualifying tournaments are scheduled for Mineola High School on Saturday and Sunday, February 8-9.

“The FIRST LEGO League students on Long Island will be working diligently to identify real-life problems we face when constructing and designing new buildings in our community,” said Stephanie Stern, FIRST LEGO League co-director. “It’s amazing how passionate they are about finding a solution. It’s going to be really exciting to see what they devise when they present at the qualifiers.”

This year’s City Shaper challenge requires teams to choose and solve real-world problems associated with the development of cities. “Students will observe how cities and buildings grow, thrive and change,” according to FIRST. “They’ll create new, innovative solutions to help shape an optimal future, using the environment and modern day tools and technology to make it last.”

While developing the City Shaper challenge, FIRST collaborated with experts in the field of architecture, civil engineering, infrastructure, sustainability and urban planning. The advisory team “helped to create a theme and challenge missions that reflect what it takes to design and construct practical, sustainable and beautiful buildings and spaces, catering to the diverse needs of their users,” according to FIRST.

The competition will be judged in three areas, including project innovation, robot design and core values, “which embody aspects of teamwork and good sportsmanship,” according to FIRST.

The top robot game scores will be recognized as teams program their LEGO Mindstorms robots to “solve a set of missions on an obstacle course set on a thematic playing surface.”

Teams vying in the regionals are seeking to advance to the Long Island finals, which will be held at Longwood High School on Sunday, March 1. Long Island’s FIRST LEGO League championships are sponsored by the School-Business Partnerships of LI, which also coordinates the FIRST robotics regional competition at Hofstra University that the Huntington High School team will once again enter in March. The top finishers will advance to the world championships in the spring.

The worldwide FIRST LEGO League program is comprised of 310,000 participants spread across 38,000 teams in more than 100 countries.

A concession stand stocked with food and refreshments will be open throughout both days of next weekend’s competition. Blue Devil robotics team members will be volunteering at the event, helping the competition to run smoothly and also mentoring the teams comprised of Huntington UFSD students.

Send a message to for more information about next weekend’s FIRST LEGO League qualifier.