Four School District of Philadelphia Teachers Selected for Naval Education Workplace Training Program

Four School District of Philadelphia high school science teachers have been selected for the 2021 inaugural cohort of the Naval Education Workplace Training (NEWT) Program.

The teachers are Maya Bhagat of Frankford High School, Lee Burwasser of Academy at Palumbo High School, Paula Miller of Abraham Lincoln High School, and Jason Perez of Murrell Dobbins CTE High School.

The NEWT Program gives teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience, learning engineering skills and conducting research side by side with Navy engineers and scientists. This 8-week summer program will give teachers a taste of life as a professional engineer, and give them crucial insights that they will be able to bring back to their classrooms.

Teachers will work with Navy mentors to develop demonstrations and curriculum materials, and will receive continued mentorship throughout 2021-2022 the academic year including a classroom visit to give students a chance to interact directly with STEM professionals.

The program is a collaboration between Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division and the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition. Teachers receive a $10,000 stipend for completing the 15-month program.

The first-hand experience gained in the NEWT program will give these four teachers insight and perspective to better prepare their students to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow.

NSWCPD Renews STEM Charter, Lauds Partnership with Coalition

Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division has renewed its STEM Charter which aims to support a pipeline of young talent to join the naval engineering workforce. An article in the Department of Defense internal news roundup explains NSWCPD’s current outreach efforts and highlights several partnerships, including the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition.

Philadelphia high school robotics student Jeechieu Ta learns about career opportunities in the Navy at the American Society of Naval Engineers conference at Villanova University in 2016. (PC: RoboLancers)

Since 2019, the partnership between the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and NSWCPD has matched Navy scientists and engineers with student robotics teams at over 20 Philadelphia schools. This mentorship is valuable for the students who get to build relationships with professional engineers and envision future careers for themselves.

The program is valuable for the mentors as well, who get to meet colleagues from other departments at NSWCPD, and learn project management and communication skills that they can bring back to their work at NSWCPD.

Beyond team mentorship, NSWCPD provides summer internships for high school and college students. And new for summer 2021, the NEWT Program (Naval Education Workforce Training) will give four School District of Philadelphia high school teachers an intensive R&D experience.

Read the full article here.

Deadline: FIRST LEGO League Event Registration

FIRST LEGO League teams planning to compete at the Philadelphia events this spring must register for those events by Monday March 1.

Use these links to navigate to the FIRST Mid-Atlantic event registration system:

Register for the 2021 Philadelphia FLL Challenge Tournament (grades 4-8)

Register for the 2021 Philadelphia FLL Explore Expo (grades 2-4)

Both events will be held virtually on Saturday May 1, 2021.

Concentration and excitement at the 2019 Philadelphia FIRST LEGO League Challenge Qualifier.

Job Posting: Executive Director

The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition seeks to hire our first full-time Executive Director to lead an exciting growth stage for our young organization.

Over the past year, Coalition board and staff have engaged in planning processes to support ongoing growth. Our Strategic Plan revolves around a central question:

“How can the Coalition use robotics programs to drive equitable STEM education for Philadelphia students?”

And the Executive Director will lead the Coalition toward a solution to that question.

Read the full job description, responsibilities, qualifications, and application process here. Applications are due March 19th.

Palumbo RoboGriffins are CoderZ Pro League World Champions!

The RoboGriffins, the student robotics team at Academy at Palumbo high school, won first place today in the CoderZ Pro League World Championship, besting team Explosion from School 1329 in Moscow, Russia in the final round.

CoderZ Pro League is a virtual robotics tournament that allows teams to program a simulated robot using the Python or Blockly programming language. In the qualifying rounds, teams played their code against an AI opponent. But in the playoffs, teams played their code head to head against another team. View game animation.

RoboGriffins from Academy at Palumbo won first place at the CoderZ Pro League 2020 World Championship.

This year, with School District of Philadelphia students learning from home, there has been no opportunity for robotics teams to build physical robots or compete in their usual competitions. The CoderZ Pro League provided a platform for students to continue learning programming, game strategy, and teamwork, competing from the safety of their own homes.

RoboGriffins co-captain Sharif Salim, a 12th grade student, has been working toward a big win like this since his freshman year. “It brings me great pride that our team all came together to make this possible,” said Salim. “It was a new experience using CoderZ, and though at first I didn’t have a clue how to use it, after a lot of practice and hard work we made it happen!”

Team co-captain Mingjin Lu, an 11th grade student, was the team’s lead programmer. Lu said “CoderZ gave me a huge opportunity to discover my coding abilities in a time when we can’t meet up in person. I encourage every student interested in STEM to participate in CoderZ.”

RoboGriffins co-captain Mingjin Lu, an 11th grade student at Academy at Palumbo High School, is the team’s lead programmer.

Coding projects and engineering design in general require an iterative process of testing and troubleshooting. “For me, CoderZ´s competition had moments of hardship and confusion,” said Zhijun Tian, an 11th grade team member. “But nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction at seeing our code working.” 

The team gathered via Google Meet to watch the final rounds together as they were streamed live from the CoderZ broadcast studio in Israel. “Watching the students cheer when we won the finals was so awesome!” said coach Sean Martin. “I’m exceptionally proud of them and the work they put in. Our students are so excited and engaged with STEM and robotics. I’m sure we’ll see a few of them shaping the future of technology in the next 10 years.”

“In spite of the monumental changes our school faced this year,” said coach Lee Burwasser, “the RoboGriffins proved they were able to stay focused and beat the best. Seeing a group of students learn as much as they have in such a short time was a teacher’s dream.”

The RoboGriffins at the Philadelphia FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament at Central High School, February 9, 2020.

“I want to congratulate the Palumbo robotics champions,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. “Whether athletics or the arts or robotics, our young people need an outlet to showcase their passions and skills. This team, by being STEM leaders, are showing Philadelphia students just another venue to reach their potential and make their mark.”

The CoderZ Pro League challenge launched in the fall, and five Philadelphia Robotics Coalition teams advanced to the playoffs. Within our region, the Constitution High School GenBots placed 3rd, Central High School RoboLancers FORTRAN made it to the quarterfinals, and the Parkway Center City Middle College RoboHounds and Central High School RoboLancers COBOL made it to the round of 16. The Palumbo RoboGriffins won the region to advance to (and win) the world championship rounds.

High school teams receive product design crash course from Professor Sarah Rottenberg

Two dozen high school robotics team members gathered virtually on Monday for a crash course in product design led by Professor Sarah Rottenberg, Executive Director of the Integrated Product Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

The students, representing the FIRST Robotics Competition teams from Central High School and Science Leadership Academy/Masterman High School in Philadelphia, plus Cheltenham High School, are tackling the FIRST Innovation Challenge which, this year, invites teams to “Identify a problem or opportunity and design a solution to help people (or a community of people) keep, regain, or achieve optimum physical and/or mental health and fitness through active play or movement.”

The crash course explained the product design process, highlighting the differences between a need-based process and a solution-based process that the teams are more used to.

Watch the recorded product design crash course on YouTube.

Teachers to Explore Naval Engineering in new Summer Program

The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition has partnered with Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division to launch the Naval Education Workforce Training (NEWT) Program in summer 2021.

The program gives teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience, learning engineering skills and conducting research side by side with Navy engineers and scientists. This 8-week summer program will give teachers a taste of life as a professional engineer, and give them crucial insights that they will be able to bring back to their classrooms. Teachers will work with Navy mentors to develop demonstrations and curriculum materials to use in their classrooms.

Four teachers will be selected for the 2021 cohort. Each will receive will receive a $10,000 stipend for the 15-month program, and continued mentorship throughout the academic year including a classroom visit to give students a chance to interact directly with STEM professionals.

View the full details below, and apply by January 31st at bit.ly/newt2021.

NEWT_Flyer_2021_final

Subaru of America Foundation Supports Coalition Programs

We are pleased to announce that the Subaru of America Foundation has awarded the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition a $10,000 grant to support our robotics team programs!

Nailah Shabazz
Student Nailah Shabazz at the Pennsylvania FIRST Tech Challenge Championship, March 2020.

The Subaru of America Foundation aims to support the work of organizations that are empowering the growth and development of children and young adults through career exploration with relevance to job readiness and job skills training.

The Foundation focuses its efforts on the communities where Subaru employees live and work, so our location, just across the Delaware from Subaru’s national headquarters in Camden, NJ is right in their backyard.

Thank you, Subaru, for supporting the students of Philadelphia!

Coalition Teams Advance to CoderZ Playoffs

Though our teams can’t meet in person this year, that hasn’t stopped them from learning and competing from home. High school teams are competing in the CoderZ Pro League, a virtual robotics competition where students learn to code a simulated robot using Blockly or Python.

View the Topplebot challenge reveal video:

Through the preliminary stage and the group stage, individual students played their code against an AI opponent. The two highest scoring teams from each group have advanced to the playoffs where they will face off 1:1 with other teams from around the country.

Five of our Coalition teams have qualified for the playoff rounds:

  • RoboLancers COBOL from Central High School
  • RoboGriffins from Academy @ Palumbo High School
  • Parkway RoboHounds from Parkway Center City Middle College
  • GenBots from Constitution High School, and
  • RoboLancers FORTRAN from Central High School

The playoffs are a single elimination bracket tournament. The first round will be streamed live on Twitch on Thursday December 17. Join us!