Chapin Bots Win Big at Robotics Competition

Let’s hear it for the magnificent Chapin Bots! At the New York City FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Championship on March 16 and 17, the Bots’ FLL robotics teams – the ExoPlanets and the Galactic Grapes – brought their talent, perseverance and love of STEAM to this exhilarating, outer-space-themed competition at City College, excelling in a field of 350 teams to take home major awards.

Sporting team T-shirts in purple (Galactic Grapes) and blue (ExoPlanets), these 16 motivated Chapin Middle School students – whose strong performance at their Manhattan Qualifier in February earned them the chance to compete – built, programmed and tested autonomous robots, while participating in a number of innovative, real-world challenges that relied on their hard work, collaboration and problem-solving abilities.

At the end of the action-packed weekend, both teams thoroughly impressed the judges: The Galactic Grapes won the 1st Place Core Values Teamwork Award, and the ExoPlanets captured the 2nd Place Champion’s Award, entitling this team to represent New York City at the 2019 World Festival, which will take place in Detroit at the end of April. National robotics champions from a host of countries, including South Africa, Sweden, Israel, Russia, Yemen, New Zealand, India and Chile, will be among the thousands of competitors.

The Galactic Grapes and the ExoPlanets are coached by Jasslin Betances, Lower School Technology Integrator, and Trude Goodman, Head of the Middle School Technology Department. Three collegiate mentors also provide support to the students: Demi Moore of Macaulay Honors College, Christine Sisson of Columbia University and Phoebe Elijashev, who attends Columbia Secondary School. 

Middle School Science Department Head Jack Cooley, who established the Middle School robotics program in 2011, oversees the Chapin Bots, which comprises after-school competitive and non-competitive teams for nearly 100 students in Classes 4-7, including the FLL teams, which are made possible through the generosity of Chapin's Swarzman Family Robotics Program. 

Another all-girls robotics team, the Tech Hoppers of Girl Scout Troop 3001 on Roosevelt Island, won the 1st Place Champion’s Award. During the FLL scrimmage season, the Bots had the pleasure of hosting the Tech Hoppers at Chapin as they prepared for the competition. The ExoPlanets are proud to go on to the next level with their accomplished “sister” team!

Having two entirely female teams represent New York City in the global robotics competition is especially significant because participation in the FIRST LEGO League contests is disproportionately male: 70% are boys, while only 30% are girls. Thanks to the thriving robotics program and Chapin’s steadfast commitment to STEAM education, the playing field is steadily becoming more equal.

Congratulations to both the ExoPlanets and the Galactic Grapes on their outstanding achievements, and best of luck as these confident and capable teams continue to make their marks, one perfectly programmed robot at a time.

Browse photos from the competition below: