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Kennedy Catholic's Bionic Gaels Host 24-Team Robotics Event

Kennedy Catholic's Bionic Gaels.
Kennedy Catholic's Bionic Gaels. Photo Credit: Contributed

SOMERS, N.Y. -- Twenty-four teams, more than 200 students and some 100 parents and volunteers will descend on Kennedy Catholic in Somers for the last of five qualifying robotics tournaments of the "Bionic Brouhaha II: The Second One" on Saturday.

Four years ago, Laurel Higham and her father, Joseph, formed the Bionic Gaels robotics club. The team has experienced a myriad of successes over the years and now they will be hosting Bionic Brouhaha II: The Second One.

"Everyone is very enthusiastic about being a big community,” said Laurel, a Kennedy senior, who is the captain of the Bionic Gaels.  “You don’t want to create any hard feelings between teams.”

Since the 5602 Bionic Gaels are hosting the event, they will not be competing. However, Kennedy Catholic has another team, the 9541 Xeno Gaels, which consists of four students and was formed in October. This will be its first event as a team.

Awards are not just given out for the performance of a team’s robot. Teams are judged on their team spirit, fundraising, community service and how well you designed your robot.

“It’s not just about the robot,” Laurel said. “There’s a greater message to it.”

Saturday’s 24-team tourney will showcase robots from teams across the Hudson Valley, Long Island, upstate New York, Buffalo, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Six squads will advance to the Championship event at Pace University on Sunday, Feb. 8.

“Nationally and regionally, our robotics program has been experiencing explosive growth,” said Joseph Higham.  “We're expecting 200-250 of Westchester's brightest students along with an additional 100-150 parents, coaches, mentors and volunteers.”

When Dean Kamen founded FIRST, or For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, he had a goal of developing ways to inspire students in engineering and technology fields.

“Kids are idolizing celebrities and sports stars and so few of them can go pro in their field, so we want to show them where else they can go pro,” Higham said of Kamen’s message.

Teams will begin making preliminary adjustments at 9 a.m., with opening ceremonies to follow around 10:30 a.m.

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