River City Robotics, a Miami Springs community robotics and tinkering club, competed against 18 different robotics teams from all over Miami-Dade and Broward County in the First Lego League (FLL) Carrollton competition. Competing under the name MiamiBots, Sydney Gordon, Sebastian Scavuzzo and Joao Staples came home with a win.
The young programmers won the Core Values Trophy at the event, which took place at the prestigious Carrollton School in Coconut Grove on Saturday, Jan. 11. MiamiBots programmed and ran their unique robot against robotics powerhouses like Ransom Everglades, McNicol Middle and Gulliver.
The group held their own and endured grueling question-and-answer sessions covering the technical design of their robot, working as a team and the details of how they might address the impact of a category 5 hurricane in South Florida.
Their big win makes this an exciting time considering this is the River City Robotics’ very first competition. No one could be prouder of their accomplishments than Miami Springs resident Robert Gordon.
Gordon founded the River City Robotics Club at the urging of his two children — Sydney, 10, and Wesley, 7 — who enjoy designing and inventing. The club covers all aspects of robots, electronics and programming. They use space provided by Crossbridge Church on Westward Drive. The age of club members range from elementary through high school.
“You don’t have to be an electronics geek to participate,” said Robert Gordon. He hopes that the club will attract all types who want to build things for themselves.
“Sydney and Wesley are always inventing and designing things. I wanted to provide an outlet for them, for their peers, and interested parents to foster that creativity,” said Gordon. “Young people are heavy users of technology as it becomes more and more mainstream. The challenge to us all is to become familiar with the foundations of the technology that we take for granted.”
River City Robotics was formed in May of 2013. Their three main objectives are to increase access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities and education for the River Cities communities; to encourage creative thinking and hands-on learning for the area’s youth; and to allow parents the opportunity to bond with their kids over common interests and activities.
Cost can be an obstacle for robotic endeavors, so naturally the most powerful clubs in the county can be found at the private schools or in public schools located in the wealthier parts of Miami. River City Robotics is the first club of its kind to be located in the River Cities area.
“My hope is that as a community-based club, we can steer clear of the budgetary haggling that annually takes place within MDCPS to provide access to this knowledge on a year-round basis not tied to the budgetary cycles. We hope to attract young people from private, public and charter schools and provide a base of students with experience in tinkering and robotics who will contribute to clubs and groups elsewhere,” said Gordon.
“In every group of 100 people regardless of socioeconomic status, there are a few Einsteins. The ultimate goal is to allow everyone to express themselves in a creative way and garner the satisfaction that comes from self-expression.”
The competitions are as much about the robot as they are about working together as a team, learning and growing and leadership. The robot that was used in the competition was a composite of the design of all of the kids in the club. Diago Scarrone built a working grappler hand, Sydney Gordon worked on the idea of the tank drive belt, and Sebastian Scavuzzo developed strategies for tackling obstacles and led program development.
“Seeing the other teams in action made this real for us and seeing the excitement around robotics by parents and students like us made it fun,” said Scavuzzo.
“Our city’s robotics club has provided an outlet for Sebastian’s interest in technology,” said Sebastian’s mother, Maylin Scavuzzo.
“Why can’t we host a local competition in Miami Springs?” said Gordon’s daughter, Sydney. With a few more nudges from the kids and whole lot of support from the parents and the community, Sydney may very well see that request come to fruition.
For now, the next competition the club hopes to attend will be the Miami Robotics Symposium in April.
If you’d like to learn more about the club, you can visit www.rivercityrobotics.com or contact them at email@example.com.