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A team of 10 MMI Preparatory School students received the Judges Choice Award for Outstanding Engineering during the New York/New Jersey region Botball Tournament, which was held in May in Rahway, New Jersey. MMI was the only school from Pennsylvania among the 16 teams that competed in the event.

MMI students Jay Solgama, Erin Sari, Gabriella DeMelfi, Megan Marchetti, Lois Polashenski, Stephanie Zellner, Garrett Kost, Dillon Merenich, Samuel Sessock and Niklas Byriel competed in the event. MMI computer science instructor Justin Vincent was the student adviser for the competition.

MMIBotballThe Botball Educational Robotics Program engages middle- and high school-aged students in a team-oriented robotics competition.In January, February and March, the Botball Educator Workshops provide team leaders and mentors with technology training and introduce the details of that year's game. Then, after a build period of about seven weeks, students bring their robots to their regional tournament to compete against other students in the current season's game challenge. Students use science, engineering, technology, math and writing skills to design, build, program and document robots in a hands-on project.

The tournament challenge for 2016 read as follows: “The first manned mission to Mars was evacuated during a severe storm and BotNaut was left behind in the chaos. Now he’s stranded and has to survive for months until the rescue mission arrives. Fortunately, a crew of robots is already on the Crater Floor building a Habitat. BotNaut will need their help with a wide variety of tasks to improve his chances for survival.”

The students were tasked with creating a robot that was completely autonomous, not remote controlled, and relied on sensors based on a computer program to start, stop and maneuver on the game board. The robots had to be engineered using the components provided in the Botball game kit.

Jay Solgama is the son of Dr. Paresh and Arti Solgama, Mountaintop; Erin Sari is the daughter of Izzet and Mumine Sari, Sugarloaf; Gabriella DeMelfi is the daughter of Daniel and Esme DeMelfi, Hazleton; Megan Marchetti is the daughter of David and Andrea Marchetti, Freeland; Lois Polashenski is the daughter of Robert and Kathleen Polashenski, Freeland; Stephanie Zellner is the daughter of Stephen and Theresa Zellner, Drums; Garrett Kost is the son of Joseph and Natalie Kost, Freeland; Dillon Merenich is the son of Michael and Cindy Merenich, Freeland; Samuel Sessock is the son of Jennifer and James Denion, Freeland, and the late John Sessock; and Niklas Byriel is the son of Julia Byriel, Mountaintop, and the late Kim Byriel.


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