The Home of Midwood Science Research

Robotics moves on to World Championship

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

The Rolling Drones, one of Midwood’s robotics teams, will be moving on to the FTC World Championship from April 27–30 in St. Louis, Missouri. [Note: Due to lack of funds, The Rolling Drones were unable to attend this event as planned.]

The team will be competing against teams from all over the country after being one of the twenty-four teams to move on from the FTC East Super-Regional Championship that took place in Scranton, Pennsylvania from March 18 to March 20. Bötley Crüe, the other team that made it to the Super-Regional made it to the semi-finals, but did not qualify for the World Championship.

Before heading to the Super-Regional competition, Bötley Crüe won the trophy for the winning alliance and the Connect Award for helping the community understand FIRST, the FIRST Tech Challenge, and the team itself at the LI/NYC regional competition that was held at Townsend Harris High School on February 28. The Rolling Drones were awarded the trophy for the Finalist Alliance and won the PTC Design award for the design of their elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic.

"I was overwhelmed with excitement knowing that they are both moving on to the Super-Regional," Ms. Ali said. "It is the ultimate reward after all of their hard work."

Overview of the competition arena.

The tables turned during regionals. The Rolling Drones won four out five of their qualifying matches while Bötley Crüe only won one. Bötley Crüe had connection issues that prevented the robot from working. At one point, the phone that holds all the programs that allowed the robot to work fell out of its case and hindered the robot from moving. Due to the good relationship with Techno Chix, a Girl Scout group ranked fourth, they were able to move onto the Super-Regional championship. In 2009, Techno Chix and Bötley Crüe moved onto the World Championship together.

"During one of the matches, we went up the mountain way too fast," said Shazem Khalid ’16. "Our robot flipped over and that cost us one of our matches."

Bötley Crüe Captain Victoria Gnip ’16 said, "It was really close and we didn’t think weren’t going to make it because we had so many technical issues. Luckily Techno Chix chose us to be part of their alliance. We were able to fix our technical problems and win the competition."

Shazem Khalid ’16 and Michael Nurilov ’16 are the drivers for Bötley Crüe with Dana Gan ’16 as the coach. As for Rolling Drones, Caitlin Tsang ’17 and Jessy Li ’16 are the drivers while Ihor Bakhank ’16 coaches from the side.

First Res-Q logo

Between each match, the teams had time to make small adjustments to their robots. Mostly, the teams switched up parts of the robot to be better prepared for the different sides of the field that they would be competing on.

Rolling Drones was ranked second and they were able to pick their three alliances and move onto the semi-finals and the finals. Bötley Crüe won one out of the five qualifying matches due to technical difficulties (mostly Bluetooth disconnection) and were ranked 25th.

Both teams moved on to the Super-Regional where they competed in the Grace Hopper Division made up of 36 teams. The other division, Nikola Tesla, was also made up of 36 teams. While Rolling Drones only lost 2 of 9 matches, Bötley Crüe was not as fortunate. The Rolling Drones were in fourth place and got to chose which teams would move on with them to the elimination rounds. The Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe were allies at the semi-finals but lost the elimination match. The winning teams from each division faced each other for a final match. The Hopper Division won the match, and the teams from that division moved up on the ranking chart. Because of their ranking, the Rolling Drones moved on to the World Championship. Since the Midwood alliance did not win the elimination match, Bötley Crüe could not qualify for the World Championship.

"As a captain, it’s a lot of pressure to keep the team together, organized and strong so we are able to perform to the best of our abilities from match to match. Being calm, cool, and collected was the key to success," said Rolling Drones’ Ihor Bakhnak ’16.

Mr. Jahn said, "I was really proud of both teams for making it that far. Both teams did extremely well despite the fact that Bötley Crüe was teamed up with teams that made it hard to win. I’m glad one of the teams made it."

Written by Jessica Wen and Rabia Arshad (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Kai Saunders earns recognition for Science Research

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 by for JSHS, Media.

Moving onto nationals, Kai Saunders ‘16 has gained recognition in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for her project "Urban Soils: Metal Content in Artifacts".

On February 27, Saunders took part in the regional finals and won Now she is advancing to the National Symposium in Dayton, Ohio from April 27 to 30.

Saunder’s journey began in a research class at Midwood, where Ms. Shaniece Mosley introduced her to the JSHS competition. The inspiration for her project was gained at an internship at Brooklyn College. Saunders was under the guidance of Dr. Zhongqi (Joshua) Cheng and Dr. Hermine Huot in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Saunders said, "Hermine was like a mother to everyone."  She continued to explain that Huot guided everyone with their projects, as it was more than just Saunders in the internship.

Portrait of Kai Saunders outdoors
Kai Saunders will represent NYC at the National JSHS in April

The project began as Saunders and other researchers studied the papers of Richard V. Pouyat and El Khalil. These papers were on topics similar to what she went on to research for her project. It inspired her and informed her a lot on urban soil and the metal contents.

Saunders met up with her professors on a weekly basis, around twice a week depending on her lacrosse schedule. She managed her time wisely and had a weekly plan. Ms. Mosley, Saunders’ supervising teacher, monitored her project by checking on her research logbook when Midwood research students meet up once a week.

Ms. Mosley would ask her research students to explain their projects to her. If they are able to, then it is implied that the students understood their topic fully and can present their projects elsewhere.

JSHS logo

"When the research is out of my field, one of the easiest things I can do is have the students explain to me what they are doing because they can relate their research to anyone in any discipline when they share their findings. I also think having students explain their research to me ensures that they really understand the concepts and the experimental procedures associated with their projects," said Ms. Mosley.

As Ms. Mosley sees how her students have changed, she is proud to see them establish better communication skills and become successful in their research. This includes Saunders, as she proceeds on to the National JSHS.

"I am glad to see my students grow as individuals and see their hard work pay off They far exceeded my expectations, by just being able to stand in front of their peers and other scientists and a talk at length about their research is astonishing feat," she continued.

Through the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, her public speaking improved and she gained confidence. She was able to meet other researchers and learn about their experiences from their projects.

Written by Michelle Li and Jenna Palme (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Ocean Science buzzes its way to the top

Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 by for Media, Ocean Science.

2016 Bay Scallop Bowl logo

First place went to Midwood’s Ocean Science Team at the 2016 Bay Scallop Bowl administered by Stony Brook University on Saturday, March 5.

Every year, 16 teams from across the state participate at this regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl sponsored chiefly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Simply put, teams of four players compete against one another in rounds structured around two "team challenge questions" sandwiched at the beginning and end by a 6 minute round of buzzer questions. During the buzzer round, multiple-choice toss-up questions are read until a team answers one correctly. That team can then collaborate on a short answer bonus question to score additional points. Team challenges are timed worksheets that require all four players to cooperate and think critically to answer the prompts. The team with the most points at the end of the final buzzer round wins.

The day began at 15 minutes before six in the morning at Midwood on Saturday for the coaches, competitors, and spectators as they boarded the bus to Long Island.

"Midwood has sent a team to the Bay Scallop Bowl for seven years with nothing higher than last year’s third place finish, but I have a gut feeling this year is going to make Midwood history," said A-Team coach Mr. Alan Stack.

Group photo
Bart Rosenzweig, Samuel Makarovskiy, Joseph Parziale, Andrew Li, Austin Siu

This year Midwood, once again, had the opportunity to bring an A- and a B-Team to compete.

"Having a B-Team gives the underclassmen a chance to experience the competition and work through their nerves, so they don’t have to go in blind when they compete for the win next year," said A-Team Captain Andrew Li ’16.

Following a complimentary breakfast and guest speakers, the "group stage" that determined seeding began. In the first round, Midwood’s A-Team faced St. Ann’s who had knocked out Midwood and won it all two years prior.

This year, the Hornets would have none of it. Quick buzzing left St. Ann’s in the dust as A-Team racked up a 98-48 victory.

"Their captain had his face in his hands by the end of the match from being beaten to the buzz on nearly every question," said Mr. Stack with a smile.

B-Team faced a quick buzzing team of its own in Commack but still pulled out a win of 74–58.

In the second round, it was Midwood vs. Midwood, which was the friendliest competition either team faced that day. A-Team and B-Team coaches Mr. Stack and Ms. Kimberly Lau shook hands cheerfully, and the round was off. The A-Team quickly took control and won comfortably 114–17. Nonetheless everyone was all smiles.

Midwood's A-Team on stage

Round 3 pitted the A-Team against Commack and the B-Team against St. Ann’s. The A-Team won convincingly 105–52 by the end despite the shocking speed of Commack’s player 3 and some close calls earlier in the match. The B-Team had it tougher facing St. Ann’s and was down by 18 before the final buzzer round. Then B-Team turned it up and began to interrupt with confidence. They clinched the round 60–53 with a final interrupt and bonus with under ten seconds remaining.

"It was a frenzy. We just answered what we knew," continued B-Team co-Captain Allan Nosov ’17, "Luckily, victory was in the forecast."

That marked the end of group stages with the A-Team sitting at 3–0 and B-Team at 2–1. Following lunch, the A-Team was seeded second and set to face 15 seed Bellport.

The A-Team had trouble early on against the underdog Bellport and was only up by four points after the team challenges. Fortunately, in the final buzzer round the Hornets pulled through and won comfortably 73–36.

"Incorrect interrupts almost cost us there, and although we won, it should have been much cleaner," said Li nervously.

However, the real story was when the seventh seed B-Team was set to face the tenth seed Stuyvesant in Round 4. This was higher stakes than usual because it was single elimination, so a loss here meant a team would be booted from competition. Despite giving it their all, the B-Team fell to Stuyvesant by just over 10 points leaving the remaining eight teams in a double elimination tournament.

Samuel Makarovskiy and Andrew Li holding trophy
Samuel Makarovskiy and Andrew Li

"We were tied before the team challenges, we fell behind afterward, and unfortunately Stuy beat us in on the buzz in the final round," said B-Team player Anne Wang ’17.

"Although, I’m disappointed to lose," stated B-Team Co-Captain Jennifer Phu ’17. "Today made me want to place higher when we come back next year."

As luck would have it, the A-Team would face Stuyvesant in Round 5. The A-Team gritted their teeth for a grudge match but led handily early on keeping Stuyvesant to zero until the team challenges. By the end, Midwood won 102–40.

"That wasn’t too bad because we focus exclusively on ocean science," explained A-Team player Bart Rosenzweig ’16, "But their team was visibly just a general science team which gave us the edge."

Round 6 was the winners’ bracket semifinal, and the A-Team won without a hitch against Woodlands 90–28. Rosenzweig stunned the judges by answering a multiple-choice question on taxonomy verbatim before any choices were read.

Round 7 pitted Midwood against the first seed, host, and returning champion Mount Sinai. There was a crowd of Midwood and Mount Sinai spectators watching this winner’s bracket final that pitted two undefeated Goliaths against each other (figuratively of course, because we’re nerds after all). It was tied at 24 following the first toss up round, but the Hornets trailed at the end of the two team challenges. It was close when the Hornets came to within 6 halfway through the final buzzer round, but an interrupt cost them four points. They fell 57–71.

"We tried hard, but we could’ve been faster," remarked A-Team player Joseph Parziale ’16, "It’s not over yet."

This defeat left Mount Sinai in the grand finals undefeated to face the winner of the losers’ bracket finals. There, in Round 8, Midwood faced Stuyvesant for a rematch. It went the same as the first matc — the A-Team picked up points left and right leading the whole way through, winning by over 30 points.

"That loss could’ve demoralized us, but instead we powered on and got our momentum back," exclaimed A-Team alternate Austin Siu ’16.

That left Midwood with one loss versus undefeated Mount Sinai in Round 9. The Hornets needed to win twice in a row to win it all — no small task.

"Let’s go meet our maker," said Rosenzweig nearly with a straight face.

Coach Lau holding fish-shaped balloon in one hand and trophy in another
Coach Lau

Then they were off. The first buzzer round was a blur, but by the end of it Midwood led by nearly 20 points. Despite taking a net point loss from the team challenge questions, Midwood outpaced Mount Sinai in the final buzzer round and won 87–57.

"The pro-Sinai crowd was shocked silent, and I knew the guys could do it!" cheered Ms. Lau.

Before the final round, at well past six in the evening, Mr. Stack simply said, "You did it once. They’re demoralized. Go out there and show them what you can really do."

At the outset, things looked grim. The A-Team was down 0–20 midway through the buzzer round but managed to scrape back to 14–24 by the end of the round. The challenges came, and Li said he didn’t feel at all confident. After the first challenge scores Midwood was down by 16 points, and the boys in blue sunk in their chairs.

"We knew the second even less than we knew the first," said Parziale grimacing.

To the team’s surprise, Midwood scored four more than Mount Sinai. Then down by 12, the Hornets were back in the game.

"I saw them jump to attention in their seats when they saw the scores, and I knew they were back in it," said spectator Michelle Do ’16.

The six minutes began to tick down. Midwood buzzed in correctly and converted a bonus to a come back at 38–40. Then Sinai lengthened their lead to 44–38. Midwood seized the lead for the first time with another toss-up and bonus conversion making the score 48–44, but Sinai quickly tied with two minutes left.

"They were neck-and-neck, and there were less than two minutes left," said Ms. Lau, "My eyes were glued to the stage, and my nails were clawed into my chair. I can only imagine how the guys on stage were feeling."

After a few incorrect responses on both sides, Midwood broke the tenuous tie and took a 52–48 lead with only 30 seconds left. Mount Sinai needed one question to tie and could win with a bonus.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl logo

The moderator began to read. It was about the Portuguese man o’ war’s anatomy. The reader got to the second choice. There was a buzz, interrupt, recognition, an answer and silence. Time was at five seconds. The reader looked down at the screen. He looked back up and said, "INCORRECT." There was a hush in the crowd. Minus four from Mount Sinai. Mr. Stack threw his hands into the air. Mount Sinai’s player 1 held his head in his hands. Time ran out. Midwood got a full reread and answered correctly. There was applause. The bonus question was foregone. The reader kept reading, but time was out. The time keeper yelled, "GAME." It was Sinai–44 and Midwood–56.

"There it was. Midwood had won, and I couldn’t believe it," gasped Ms. Lau, "I had to wait for the announcer to be sure."

"These guys put in years of work and it paid off in full," said spectator, alumnus, and former Captain Helen Wong ’15.

The next stop for Midwood is National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Morehead City, North Carolina in late April.

"I knew they could do it," concluded Mr. Stack. "I couldn’t be happier for them and what their victory will mean for the school for years to come."

Written by Samuel Makarovskiy (Class of 2016).
A redacted version of this article appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Students take on Math Challenge

Posted on Saturday, March 5, 2016 by for Media, Miscellaneous.

Scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 will be awarded to the victors of the 2016 Moody’s Mega Math Challenge. Ten Midwood students competed nationally against other high schools in two teams of five, held on February 27 and 28.

Annually, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge (also known as the M3) organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) tests the intelligence and creativity of high school juniors and seniors. Each high school can have two teams of three to five students who solve a task that challenges their knowledge in applied mathematics. The team has 14 consecutive hours to submit a solution electronically. The papers of the top six teams are posted on the M3 website, each receiving prizes, in which the first place team receives $20,000. The top six finalist teams in the Challenge will be invited to Moody’s Corporation headquarters in Manhattan to present their papers for the final confirmation phase of judging.

Logo banner

"The M3 Challenge allows students a chance to experience a timely and relevant challenge that requires mathematical modeling and analysis to find a solution," said Ms. Linda Grabowski, the teacher coach for this challenge. "It helps promote STEM education and shows the value of math to solve problems like this. It enables students to experience the challenges that an applied mathematician or someone in a related career choice might face."

This year’s task was focused on car sharing companies and their potential profits, such as Zipcar and Uber. The team members had to generate mathematical and logistical models to present their solution.

Midwood’s first team was made up of seniors Irla Belli, Zhivko Evtimov, Boris Arbuzov, Elizabeth Krazner, and junior Michael Grandel. The second team was made up of juniors Zainab Jamil, Elizabeth Skapley, Jennifer Phu, Nomon Mohammad, and Zainab Salahudin.

Both teams had a similar opinion about the problem, which was deemed to be abstract and diverted from past examples. For example, the 2015 question dealt with college tuition and future success, and the 2014 question dealt with lunch cost and nutrition values.

"I thought that the challenge was very thought provoking and allowed for many theoretical analyses to be made," said Belli. "However, it really tested our capabilities since there was less conventional math involved than we hoped. Since that was the case, we were somewhat caught off guard by the challenge but attempted to seize the moment and work together to produce a solution paper. We approached the problem logically while staying in Starbucks for 11 hours and then going to a friend’s house for the remaining three hours."

These real world problems are normally tackled by experienced applied mathematicians, but this competition presents these problems to students who are expected to provide a solution in 14 hours. This requires versatility from the competitors that is normally present in the mathematicians. Therefore, the inexperience of the competitors promotes dilemmas within the group.

Ms. Grabowski said, "The M3 challenge promotes team-work and brainstorming to come up with many ideas and concepts, but the group has to come to an agreement on one method of attack for their shared solution within the time allocated."

Arbuzov confirmed this, revealing the issues his team faced. He said, "In my opinion, a big issue was a lack of direction from the group. Being previously unexposed to such problems, we struggled to figure out a set plan. This lead to confusion within the group about what we were researching and disagreements of approach. Overall, this culminated in a large loss of time."

The math challenge can also be a representation of how high school prepares their students for the real world. This math challenge exemplifies the high school educational system based on how malleable the students are when it comes to applying what they’ve learned. The competitors from Midwood seem to have contradicting views as to how Midwood’s curriculum prepares them for these situations.

"Midwood prepared us because of the tasks that we do in our classrooms," said Salahudin. "We were taught how to effectively manage our time while working cooperatively with our team. Our end results incorporate our hard work and ideas that came from everyone in the group."

Some students thought otherwise. For example, Evtimov said. "After participating in the challenge, I believe Midwood does not prepare students well enough to survive in real world occupations. Our curriculum is based on the New York State Regents exams, Common Core agenda and the AP exams. None of the classes actually helped us approach this question."

Written by Michael Grandel and Olga Savuk (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Research students thrive at JSHS competition

Posted on Saturday, March 5, 2016 by for JSHS, Media.

Seniors have once again taken the annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) competition by storm.

Both Kai Saunders ’16 and Josh Pilipovsky ’16 were recognized for their outstanding work and represented our school with prestige. With 11Midwood students entered into this competition, seven of them made it to the finals round. Pilipovsky ’16 went ahead and won third place in the Physics category while Saunders ’16 was a finalist and won first in the Chemistry category.

JSHS is a competition which focuses around STEM in grades 9–12 but Midwood has decided to only enter seniors. Entrants must comprise a project with the help of their mentor and supervising research teacher. Individuals then compete in JSHS for scholarships and recognition by presenting to a panel of judges and an audience of peers.

Group Photo
Midwood’s 7 JSHS Semifinalists: Kieran Bissessar, Joshua Pilipovsky, Nga Ying Lo, Victor Lee, Kai Saunders, Quetourah Dalencourt, Christine Ly

These top students had the help of their science research teachers who include Mr. Glenn Elert, the Research Coordinator and physics teacher, Ms. Shaniece Mosley, chemistry teacher, and Ms. Jennifer Sullivan, biology teacher. All three teachers have an immense amount of knowledge in their field of study and can provide students with insight that will lead them to success.

The process of choosing eleven students out of the entire senior research class was long and demanding. Students were chosen to represent Midwood by having intricate and well-designed projects.

"The best projects balance background research with laboratory skills." stated Mr. Elert.

Portrait of Kai Saunders outdoors
Kai Saunders will represent NYC at the National JSHS in April

Saunders ’16 project regarding the study of heavy metal content of artifacts found in urban soil helped her not only advance to the National JSHS but also expand her knowledge about the environment itself.

Students could not have completed these intricate projects without the help of their laboratory mentors.

Kieran Bissessar ’16 said that his project would have gotten nowhere without his mentor, Dr. Donald Gerber from the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, as he is very knowledgeable. Research students are allowed to intern at any location most suitable for them and favorable for their field of study. Colleges that many of the seniors participate at include but are not limited to Brooklyn College, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and NYU.

Individuals had access to immense amount of information provided by both their mentors and the research teachers. Even when Ms. Mosley is not familiar with the topic that a student is researching, she still manages to aid them in the process of perfecting their research.

Written by Abeer Naeem and Clifford Young (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of Argus.

Hornet demonstrates outstanding qualities

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

From being a member of Robotics’ Bötley Crüe to editor of Argus, to participating in the Red Cross and Glee clubs, Midwood’s Quetourah Dalencourt ’16 is a prime example of Midwood’s finest.

Dalencourt started her Midwood experience in the Liberal Arts program and worked her way up to the Medical Science program, participating in many extra-curriculars and advanced classes. Dalencourt was originally set to attend Aviation High School in Queens, but her love for the Medical Science program made her apply here, but the only spots available were in the Liberal Arts program.

"I was supposed to go to this Aviation High School in Queens, but I really didn’t want to go," said Dalencourt "It’s a good school, but Midwood was my first choice school because I really loved Med-Sci, but there was no space. So I just joined as LASI and switched."

Portrait of Quetourah seated

Dalencourt participates in the Red Cross Club, Glee Club, Robotics’ Bötley Crüe and is an editor for Argus, along with starting her own Computer Coding Club.

"I joined these clubs because they are just things that I really enjoy doing," said Dalencourt "Like when I first started journalism, I was wondering why I was in the class, but once we learned about layouts and everything, I thought it was cool and definitely something that I could do."

Dalencourt also does undergraduate research at NYU as a part of the Midwood Science Research program.

Dalencourt has always had a passion for volunteer work and helping people, which is why she was thrilled at the Red Cross Club starting in Midwood.

"I was so excited when the Red Cross Club started because the work that they do is really amazing, and I try my best to attend the events," said Dalencourt.

Dalencourt joined the robotics team as a programmer because of her love for computer programming. She was asked to join the team as a programmer despite not taking the required robotics and mechatronics courses.

"I started the coding club because when I began coding I wanted to meet other programmers. Since Midwood didn’t have one, I decided to make my own," said Dalencourt "I met a lot of kids that I didn’t even know were interested in computer science."

Dalencourt plans to double major in computer science and business administration, but also wants to do volunteer work.

"I think it’s really great and important to help people, so it’s something that I really want to do," said Dalencourt "I also want to travel the world, especially to Tokyo because they are really tech savvy and the technology they have there is really great."

She is also a part of the team that works on the yearbook.

"It’s really great because I get a sneak peek at everything that’s going to be in it," said Dalencourt. "We all work together as a team to create the best yearbook possible."

Dalencourt has been a member of Glee club since freshman year.

"Glee club is a lot of fun and I made a ton of great friends," said Dalencourt.

Dalencourt encourages students to participate in extracurricular activities.

"I think anyone can join any club If there is something that you like to do, join the club for it If there is no club for it, then make the club," said Dalencourt. "You get to meet new people who enjoy doing the same thing, and you get to learn from them which is pretty awesome."

Written by Kaelah Blanchette (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of Argus.

Urooj Ansari appears on GMA with Bill and Melinda Gates

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 by for Media.

Midwood Science student Urooj Ansari appeared on the ABC News television program Good Morning America (GMA) Wednesday, February 24 alongside the billionaire philanthropist couple Bill and Melinda Gates. The Gates family set out their goals for 2016 in an open letter. This year’s inspiration came from a group of high school students in Kentucky. "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?" Melinda and Bill replied, "More time" and "More energy".

We are dedicating this year’s letter to talking about the opportunities we see to overcome these often overlooked challenges. We’re writing to high school students because you’re the ones who will ultimately be solving these problems. (Our interests in time and energy are separate from our foundation’s work on health and poverty. But it’s all related. Solving these problems will make it easier to save lives and make the world a more equitable place.)

Urooj was selected by the New York Academy of Science to appear with the Gateses on GMA for her work with the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures program under their Global STEM Alliance.

Urooj Ansari is doing incredibly well in the program and has become an example mentee for our students. Urooj might be a great voice for our program and will be able to serve as a pillar of encouragement to other younger students….

Group photo from the GMA website showing students with Bill and Melinda Gates and GMA host Robin Roberts
Midwood Science student Urooj Ansari (more or less in the center at sixth from left) with Bill and Melinda Gates, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, and other students representing the New York Academy of Science.

Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe move on to Regionals

Posted on Monday, February 22, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

Bötley Crüe and Rolling Drones won first place at the FTC East Flatbush Qualifier that took place at Tilden High School on February 6, 2016.

Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe received the Winning Alliance Award. Bötley Crüe won the Rockwell Collins Award for bringing great ideas from concept to reality and for the most innovative and creative robot design solution to any or all specific field elements or components in the First Tech Challenge. Pink Droyd came in third and did not qualify.

"They performed very well at the Qualifier despite having multiple difficulties," said Mr. Cameron Jahn "With the help of Bötley Crüe, they pulled off a decisive victory."

All three teams meet during their AutoCAD class led by Mr. Cameron Jahn and Ms. Lisa Ali.

Team captains include Ihor Bakhnak ’16 of Rolling Drones, Victoria Gnip ’16 of Bötley Crüe and Adam Abdelhadi ’16 of Pink Droyd. Each team consists of 12 players Each member — builder, driver, field manager — plays an important role.

Overview of the cometition space

The challenge, called Res-Q, is based off of rescue situations faced by mountain explorer. The teams’ robots must fit in an 18-inch cube, and must meet all the requirements stated in the FTC Game Manual.

"We’ve been preparing for the competition since September," said Bakhnak. "We transformed the classroom to mimic the same exact playing field as in the competitions, and worked very hard on the things that would allow us to score points at the competition."

In the game, the field is divided into two sides with two mountains on each side and debris on the field (50 blocks 2-inch squares and 30 balls 2.8-inches in diameter). There are four teams on the field, two from each alliance. Teams can earn 20 points per side by resetting Rescue Beacons, 10 points per climber by delivering Climbers to a Shelter, 5 points for parking in the Rescue Beacon Repair Zone, Floor Goal or being parked on the Mountain and Touching the Floor, and 10, 20, or 40 points for parking on the Mountain in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively.

"We start by brainstorming ideas and designs," said Rolling Drones builder Abdul Ali ’16 "Then we start building prototypes and test them eventually we find a design we think will work. We start building and writing the program and once we’re done, we practice and edit the robot’s features."

Pink Droyd Constructor Mohammad Khalid ’16 said, "My team and I began slowly and as the competition gradually came closer, we started expanding our ideas and making them come to life."

First Res-Q logo

Every team has the desire to win the competition. Each group was motivated and confident that they were going to win.

Khalid said, "My team motivates me because of the fact that they’re always by my side. We all faced the obstacles together and that’s what lead me to continue throughout this competition."

"For this competition, we really put our minds together because we wanted to win," said Khalid ’17. "My team wanted to see our robot become better than the last time. We put extra time into the robot and also overcame difficulties of the robot such as the wiring or the connections to make the robot move."

Team Captain Bakhnak said, "This month’s competition was different than last month’s. We had time to make final adjustments to our robot because we saw what worked and didn’t work at the previous competition."

This FTC competition helps the teams work together. Bakhnak said that teams work together by providing different teams wires and other necessities to make their robot better.

"This month we were better prepared because we knew what to expect and we had improved our robot from last time," said Ali ‘16.

Rolling Drones and Bötley Crüe will compete at the NYC Long Island FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on February 28.

Written by Mohammad Khalid (Class of 2017).
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 edition of Argus.

AutoCAD moves on to regional championship

Posted on Monday, January 25, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

Bötley Crüe, one of the AutoCAD teams, won first place in First Tech Challenge (FTC) on December 20, 2015. They’re now moving onto the Regional Championship.

"They truly deserve the praise and glory for all the hard work they’re put in all semester," said Ms. Lisa Ali, Robotics, Mechatronics, and AutoCAD teacher. "I’m so proud of all my butterflies and all they’ve managed to accomplish for this qualifier."

The team received the Winning Alliance Award and the Motivate Award for exemplifying the essence of FTC through team spirit and enthusiasm, and for making a collective effort to make FIRST known throughout their school and community.

"I’m proud of them. They’ve been working overtime, putting in a lot of lunch hours," said Mr. Cameron Jahn, AutoCAD teacher. "They’ve been dedicated, and it paid off."

Robot with 2 trophies

AutoCAD is a pre-engineering class in the Medical Science Institute. There are three teams with 12 members each.

The challenge, called Res-Q, is based off of rescue situations faced by mountain explorers. Beginning September 12, each team — Bötley Crüe, Rolling Drones, and Pink Droyd — started to build a robot that must fit in an 18-inch cube and must meet all the requirements stated in the manual that the groups received. They must also write efficient programs to run their robots for the challenge.

"Building the robot is an extreme challenge, an arduous trial to build it to the specifications required," said Mohammad Naqvi ’16, "but once you get it right, watching your robot successfully carry out its designated task is an extremely satisfying sight to behold."

There are two mountains on the field. Each one is split in half, one side red and one side blue. Each side of the mountains have a low-zone, mid-zone, high-zone, and the cliff-zone.

There are two drivers and a coach during the matches. There are five matches in total, two minutes and thirty seconds each. Two alliances, blue and red, created from four randomly selected teams go head to head in hopes of moving up the leader board. Right before the match, debris that consists of blocks and balls is poured onto the field. Each one pushed into the alliance’s taped off zone is worth one point.

Matches begin with a 30 seconds autonomous period. During those 30 seconds, the drivers must put their controllers down, and robots are operated through pre-programmed instructions only. As soon as the timer starts, the coach will put the robot in autonomous mode. Teams can earn 20 points per side by resetting rescue beacons, 10 points per climber by delivering climbers to a shelter, 5 points for parking in the rescue beacon repair zone, floor goal or being parked on the mountain and touching the floor, and 10, 20, or 40 points for parking on the mountain in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively.

Once the autonomous period is over, drivers pick up their controllers and wait for the signal. Once the clock starts ticking, drivers do their best to score as high as possible. During the driver-controlled period, teams can earn points 5, 10, or 15 points for debris added to the containers in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively. Each alliance zone contains a trigger. Once the trigger is pulled, a climber attached to a zip line will slide down into a box which is worth 20 points. The climbers that are already there from the autonomous period are recounted for an additional ten points each. Each alliance can earn the same number of points for parking in the different zones and bringing climbers to shelter as they would during the autonomous period.

"Driving the robot is a lot of stress," said Shazem Khalid ’16, Bötley Crüe driver and builder. "All the hopes of your teammates rest on your shoulders so you have to make sure you can deal with that weight."

First Res-Q logo

Michael Nurilov ’16, Bötley Crüe driver, said, "When I’m driving, I feel like I’m in complete control. I’m confident."

Only in the last 30 seconds of the match can the drivers drive their robots up the cliff zone to hang from the pull up bar at the top and score 80 points. A robot that claims an "all clear" signal made up of two perpendicular bars, red and blue, located on top of the pull up bar of each mountain earns 20 points per signal if it pushes the bar with its team color down.

"We worked hard to make sure we could hang from the pull-up bar," said Victoria Gnip ’16, Bötley Crüe captain and programmer. "Thankfully, our hard work payed off, because we were the only team that hung successfully."

Bötley Crüe won with a total of 148 points.

According to Mr. Jahn, the members of the teams had robotics and mechatronics and had plenty of practice from the competitions that was in the class.

"This year, I made a goal to be hands-off and let the kids handle it. But that made me even more nervous because I have to watch them do everything on their own," said Mr. Jahn.

Dana Gan ’16, a builder for Bötley Crüe said, "We were pretty nervous and very skeptical about how we would do, even our teacher, Mr. Jahn, didn’t think we’d make it. He said he was so nervous he almost threw up."

The other two teams, were not as fortunate as Bötley Crüe. The teams’ scores suffered because of continuous loss of Wi-Fi connection. Rolling Drones placed eleventh out of 21, and Pink Droyd placed fourteenth place out of 21, respectively.

"Technology is supposed to help us, but when blasted connectivity issues comes to ruin it all we can do is watch in despair as the robot stops like a lifeless rock and almost as if it sits in the fetal position helpless and lost," said Ihor Bakhnak ’16, Rolling Drones captain and designated driver.

Despite the difficulty of the challenge, all three teams are optimistic, and are working hard on improving their robots to compete at future events. They will compete at the FTC East Flatbush Qualifier on February 6.

"We had a lot of fun as it was our first time," said Bakhnak, "and Mr. Jahn was proud of us as we [Midwood Robotics] had overall a successful competition bringing home two trophies."

Matthew Pero ’16, Bötley Crüe match coach and programmer, said, "We did well at the competition, but there are many things that need to be done and that can be improved upon for the next competition."

Bötley Crüe will compete the NYC Long Island FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on February 28.

Written by Jessica Wen (Class of 2017) and Quetourah Dalencourt (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of Argus.

AP Capstone Combines English and Science

Posted on Thursday, November 5, 2015 by for Media.

AP Capstone, a rigorous program designed to prepare students for college level literature research and writing, is now being offered at Midwood, one of the six high schools in New York that currently participates in this program.

According to the College Board, AP Capstone, a two year program, is designed to provide students with core academic skills necessary for college. The program is broken into two classes: AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Seminar focuses on teaching students the skills necessary for literature research, presentation and writing research based essays. Those skills will be used later in AP Research to write an academic paper, present the paper, and defend it.

To implement AP Capstone, the English and Science departments have worked together to redesign the curriculum of the Research program to meet the standards..

"AP Capstone is a class which prepares students for college and allows them to explore their own interest," said Mr. Kamil Kraszewski, AP seminar teacher. "The class is focused on teaching students to conduct research, write college level papers and create argumentative presentations."

This course supports the New York State standards through the implementation of Common Core. For example, standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.1 requires students to be able to "write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence."

Mr. Kraszewski added, "It’s [the class] meant to foster independence, because just about everything we do I set the way for the students, but the way they get there is up to them. "

The class is designed as an independent research class in which students learn necessary skills, such as using online databases and understanding how to compile information, and use those skill sets to perform their own research at home.

"Its really about the revision process," said Mr. Kraszewski. "I feel that many high school students feel that once they do something it’s done, and this is again meant to prepare students a process where revising is so important."

To ensure student’s work is at a college level, the revision process is focused heavily. The student’s works are revised a multitude of times; feedback is given to the students by their peers, Mr. Kraszewski, and other teachers.

"Sophomore research is a complementary course for the AP Seminar Program," said Ms. Shaniece Mosley, sophomore research teacher. "The projects we do in sophomore research align themselves to topics that are covered in the AP Seminar class."

Students in the AP Capstone program are also part of the Research Program within the Science Department. The Research Program is a three year course that is designed to provide students with the opportunity to perform independent scientific research is various college laboratories throughout the city.

"Our curriculum has aligned itself the requirements of the AP Seminar curriculum in many ways, but the essence of what do have done in sophomore research in previous years is still there." Ms. Mosley added. "Students are doing hands on projects, learning about issues in science, doing meaningful research, evaluating sources of information, and presenting their findings to each other."

The sophomore research class is designed to provide students with basics of research methods: lab safety, basic lab procedures, finding and using sources, and presenting conclusions. These basics are aligned with the AP Seminar curriculum as AP Seminar is heavily focused on scientific literature research.

Ms. Mosley said , "We are trying to assist students in becoming scientists, we want our students to think like scientists, perform experiments, evaluate information, and eventually come to their own conclusion about the world around them."

Within the Research program, juniors perform independent research in citywide college laboratories, and during senior year, the conclusions the students arrived at are used to write scientific research papers to be submitted into various national and statewide competitions. It is being debated whether AP Research should be incorporated into the student’s schedules during junior or senior year.

"AP Capstone is a different program. We had AP Literature, and then we added AP Language and Composition, and now we added AP Capstone," said Mr. Kraszewski. "Up until three years ago, if you were a junior or a senior you had four options, you took the regular English class, Journalism, Creative Writing. or AP Literature. But now you have so many more options to pick from, and we want students to have these choices and options."

Written by Victor Lee and Jacky Lin (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of Argus.

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