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MSSD Botball Team Places Well in Regional Tournament

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The 2011 Annual Greater D.C. Regional Botball Robotics Tournament took place at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 9. The Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) Botball Team placed 17th out of 39 teams and won the Judge's Spirit Trophy. Teams from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., schools participated in the competition.

Botball offers a hands-on learning experience in robotics that challenges students to make use of practical applications of science and math. Each competing team receives a kit containing the exact same LEGO parts. Botball's educational goals include technology awareness, engineering, C-programming, Internet research, design skills, and creativity.

"This year has been a challenge for our team as they are all new to robotics," said Mark Tao, MSSD science teacher and mentor for the Botball team. "They faced the strongest and most experienced teams [at the tournament], but with strategy and some luck they were able to achieve a respectable placing."

The Botball Educational Robotics Program brings together middle and high school-aged students in a team-oriented robotics competition based on national science education standards. To build the robots, students use science, engineering, technology, math, and writing skills in a hands-on project that reinforces their learning.

Student teams pit their robots head-to-head in a fast-paced regional tournament. The robots are student built and programmed to maneuver on the game board without the need for remote control. "The team had very little time to practice this year so they accomplished a lot in a very short time. They made their strategy simpler in order to be able to reliably score points. Mark Tao did a tremendous job getting them ready for this tournament," said Dr. David Snyder, Gallaudet University chemistry and physics professor and Botball mentor.

"I had a great experience [at the tournament] learning about robots and seeing the large contest scene," said MSSD senior Hazel Fajardo. "I met so many other high school students. I feel my team went through the building and programming challenge well-we had good teamwork."

Members of the MSSD Botball team are students Mikail Baptiste, Dax Courtright, Lee Miller, and Hazel Fajardo and mentors Tao and Snyder.

Botball Tournament Information