From MapSO Makers Robotics:
In 2019 Maplewood parent Brad Schenker and SOMS choir teacher Jake Ezzo created a FIRST LEGO League robotics team composed of nine 7th grade girls from South Orange Middle School, resulting in inaugural year success. The program, MapSO Makers, has found success once again!
Three MapSO Maker teams competed this year, consisting of kids that attend Maplewood Middle School and South Orange Middle School. The Yawbots, a team competing for their 3rd, and final year, were named Co-Champions of the November 18th qualifier tournament at Clifton High School. The team scored near the top in all three phases of the tournament (robot game, innovation project and robot design) and will be competing at the Regional Championship on December 9 & 10th at Mt. Olive High School.
The other teams competing this year, ‘Days without Electrocution” and “Teal Tigers”, also competed at the Clifton qualifier, and improved on their 2022 results. Brad stated, “Our region has a very short season compared to others around the world. It was made even shorter when we lost use of the Columbia High School robotics space. All the kids and their coaches, stepped up, set season goals, and worked to achieve them. If everyone enjoys the experience, and wants to come back next year, we’ve done our job. Receiving awards and top honors is just more motivation to keep continuing the program.”
For MapSO Makers, the emphasis is not on the coding or engineering but allowing the kids to learn from failure and use essential skills such as critical thinking, communication, creativity, and leadership. The FIRST LEGO League program is just the vehicle to make this happen and helps open the program to kids and parents who may be reluctant to participate.
The program has morphed each year to adapt to the needs of the teams and the availability of everyone involved. Jake stated, “We are a community program so this all happens because of the kids and their parents, who step up and volunteer to coach teams, usually made up of friends. Most of the parents do not know anything about robotics but are willing to jump in and bring a unique experience to their kids and do it year after year.”
The program has been supported by American Jiu Jitsu of Maplewood since its inception. The experience has helped several kids move on to the CHS Robotics teams and Brad is working with the teams to create mentoring and learning opportunities for all kids in the community.
Come watch the Yawbots compete at the FIRST LEGO League New Jersey North Challenge Championship on Sunday December 10th. Updates on times can be found on the event page
CHS teams, the Columbia Cougars and Columbia Cubs, will be competing on December 2nd at the FRCNJ NE Edge Meet at Essex County West Caldwell Tech. Matches start around 11am and run through early afternoon.
The MAPSO MAKER TEAMS and COACHES
Head Coaches and League Administrators
Coach: Atul Maharshi
Team Members: Lavanya Maharshi, Alex Nasberg-Abrams, Naviya Vadlamani. Isaac Tabachnick
Coach: Claire Dressler
Team Members, Charles Ewing, Thomas Ewing, Teddy Hartleib, Liam O’Flanagan, Adar Trarbach
Days without Electrocution
Coaches: Monica Hart, MaryAnn Kril, Catherin Redd
Team Members: Tim Finnegan, Devin Foley. Henry O’Briant