Gael Winds

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Robotics Reflection

My name is Lucas Hung, current Media Manager, Chief Journalist and Lead Designer (A) for the Kennedy Gaels. In Michael Oddo’s 2019 “VEX Robotics at Kennedy” article, Michael dives into the team’s passion for robotics. I’m here today to venture into the history of robotics here at Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School, and how the team operates today.

2016 Team

Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School was home to the First Tech Challenge team Bionic Gaels from 2011 to 2015. First Tech Challenge is a robotics competition that allows students through grades 7-12 to compete head-to-head through designing, building, programming, and controlling a robot. They won multiple awards, such as the Inspire Award, Think Award, and Innovate Award.

Mentored by Mrs. and Mr. Achim P’20 ‘24, the Kennedy Gaels VEX Robotics Competition Team was founded with the commencement of the 2016 Starstruck Season. We began meeting in our school’s cafeteria, our team consisting of a mere six members. Vex Robotics is a subset of First, but is open to elementary school kids all the way to university students. Despite our lack of size and experience, we won six awards and made it all the way to the Southern New York State Championships and won Tournament Finalists. We competed at the Vex Robotics World Championship in our first season. 

Six years later, we have grown in both size and experience in addition to achievements, winning over forty-five Awards, competing at VEX World Championship five times (winning national awards twice), and expanding to thirteen members distributed between two individual competition teams. Additionally, we are the 2021 Southern New York State Champions.

One big obstacle we have overcome since the formation of our team is the time constraint that accompanies meetings during the school year. Unlike most teams, our team is not a class and we are coached by volunteer parents. In the 2021-2022 Tipping Point Season, our team saw growth in our time management abilities. We started out rushing to construct our robot and struggled to find the time to do so as we could not meet during the school week. We ended the season having accomplished a schedule that allowed us the time to work on our robot while balancing our academic and social lives. With the beginning of Spin-Up, we have started strong, meeting Saturdays and Sundays over a period of ten hours, which has allowed us to prepare thoroughly for upcoming competitions. We could not be more excited to participate in the upcoming 2022-2023 competitions.

Some of our team’s greatest accomplishments are going to the VEX World Championship 5 times and winning the 2021 Southern New York State Championship. One big accomplishment during our Tipping Point Season was when we won Energy Award in our division at Worlds, as it was mostly our first year competing.

2016-2017: Starstruck
6 Members
Robot Skills Champion
Judges Award x3
Qualified for & Competed at Southern New York State Championship
Tournament Finalists at Southern New York State Championship
Energy Award at Southern New York State Championship
Qualified & Competed at Vex Robotics World Championship as a brand new first-year team

2018-2017: In The Zone
8 Members
Tournament Champions
Tournament Finalists
Robot Skills Champion
Judges Award
Qualified for & Competed at Southern New York State Championship
Excellence Award at Southern New York State Championship
Qualified & Competed at Vex Robotics World Championship
Energy Award at Vex Robotics World Championship

2018-2019: Turning Point
6 Members
Excellence Award
Tournament Champions
Robot Skills Champion x3
Sportsmanship Award
Qualified for & Competed at Southern New York State Championship
Excellence Award at Southern New York State Championship
Qualified & Competed at Vex Robotics World Championship
9th Place in our World’s Division

2019-2020: Tower Takeover
5 Members
Excellence Award
Tournament Finalists x3
Design Award x3
Judges Award
Innovate Award
Qualified for & Competed at Southern New York State Championship
Amaze Award at Southern New York State Championship
Qualified for Vex Robotics World Championship

2020-2021: Change Up
4 Members
Excellence Award x2
Robot Skills Champion x4
Judges Award
Tournament Champions
Qualified for & Competed at Southern New York State Championship
Southern New York State Tournament Champions
Qualified & Competed at Vex World Remote Championship
13th Place in our World’s Division

2021-2022: Tipping Point
14 Members
Tournament Finalists x3
Robot Skills Champion
Design Award
Build Award
Sportsmanship Award
Tournament Champions
Amaze Award
Three Teams qualifying for Southern New York State Championship
Create Award at Southern New York State Championship
Two Teams Qualified & Competed at Vex World Championship
6th Place in our Division at Vex Robotics World Championship
Energy Award at Vex Robotics World Championship

As a team, my whole team and I can all agree that the VEX Robotics Community has had a tremendous impact on each of our lives. Personally, Robotics has become a second family for me. I have made friends on teams from many parts of the world bonding over the challenges and shared experiences given to us by Robotics. In my few years with the Kennedy Gaels, I have come to see that the VEX community is as supportive as it is large.

The most unique thing about our team is that we are a diverse group of individuals coming from a variety of backgrounds. Despite being from different grades, social groups, genders, and races, we all bonded over our love for robotics and come together year after year as a team to experience the joy of competing.

Team B Member Deonna Shapely is a current high school junior and one of 3 girls on the Kennedy Gaels. She says, “Being a girl in a STEM field can be lonely at times- there is not as much female representation, and because of this you don’t always feel as included as you should be. However, immediately upon joining the Kennedy Gaels I became involved in our team’s building and design processes. I now enjoy using different power tools to create and adjust parts for our new bot, and I am slowly but surely learning to program.”

This year, we are on track for another successful year for our Robotics here at Kennedy Catholic. To stay updated with our team, follow us on Instagram:

Team A- @gaels97140a

Team B- @gaels97140b

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