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Pascack Pi-oneers find equations for success

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: After finishing fifth of 98 teams in their region, the Pascack Pi-oneers and their basketball-playing robot are headed to Temple University in Philadelphia next Friday and Saturday to compete for, among other honors, the Best Website Award from the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region.

Participating in various competitions in recent weeks , the Pi-oneers have consistently ranked among the best.

Being part of MAR, the team was required to compete at two district competitions.

Of the six available, the Pi-oneers chose the Rutgers and Mount Olive districts.

The results:

MAR Rutgers District Champions
MAR Rutgers District Entrepreneurship Award
NYC Regional Semi-Finalists
NYC Regional Entrepreneurship Award
NYC Regional Safety Credit Award
MAR Mount Olive District Semi-Finalists
MAR Mount Olive District Entrepreneurship Award
MAR Mount Olive District Best Website Award

That put the team on course for next weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region Championship with 53 other teams.

The top 15 teams who earn the most points at the MAR Region Championship will attend the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri at the end of the month.

The Pascack Pi-oneers have a fundraiser coming up: May 12 Spring Car Wash at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Car wash tickets are being sold for $5 Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, at Broadway Joe’s Bagel and Deli.

The busy Pi-oneers competed outside their conference, as well, finishing among the finalists at the NYC Regional Competition at the Jacob Javits Center in March.

They earned the Entrepreneurship Award, which “recognizes a team [that] has developed a comprehensive business plan in order to define, manage, and achieve team objectives. This team displays entrepreneurial enthusiasm and the vital business skills to ensure a self-sustaining program.”

The Pascack Pi-oneers , made up of students from Pascack Hills and Pascack Valley high schools, are a civic-minded group, participating in various area fundraisers and charities. They collaborated with the American Legion in Hillsdale this school year, collecting goods for military personnel overseas, including snacks and toiletries, that were sent along with postcards. The team also adopted a platoon and sends weekly pen-pal letters.

The Pi-oneers also work closely with the non-profit Angels Amongst Us , dedicated to helping children with Down’s Syndrome and their families.

And they have mentored FIRST Lego League teams from River Vale, Woodcliff Lake, Montvale, and Hillsdale. The River Vale team, from Holdrum Middle School, was invited to the Lego League World Festival in St. Louis.

The FIRST (First Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition this year, “Rebound Rumble,” features three robots per team performing on a flat, 27-by-54-foot court.

All were built from identical kits, with thousands of teams vying for what will only be 140 spots

at the World Championships in St. Louis, April 26-28.

The robots shoot as many foam basketballs as possible through four hoops of varying heights set in a diamond arrangement while robots from another team play defense.

The higher the hoop, the bigger the score.

How the robots work (with videos)

The robots track reflective vision targets on the backboard, calculate the distance of the shot, set the appropriate speed and then launch the balls at a 50-degree angle.

The match ends with the robots attempting to balance on bridges in the middle of the court for bonus points.

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