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Brewster High School Students Mentor CV Starr Peers in Robotics

students watch on as peers play with robot

Squeals of delight filled the hallway at CV Starr Intermediate School as students crowded around a small roving robot. With help from a high school mentor, a student worked with determination to make the machine pick up a small stuffed animal. Classmates erupted into cheers and applause when the student succeeded in lifting the stuffed owl into the air with the robot’s claw. 

All of the excitement was due to a special visit from Brewster High School students to introduce younger students to robotics, simple and compound machines, problem solving and innovation.

“I was amazed at what our students took away from the visit,” said Jackie Fego, the CV Starr teacher who collaborated with Brewster High School’s Rebecca Greenfeld to make the visit possible. “Many of them were talking about how they could create robots to help people with disabilities and how important perseverance is for the builds. The fact that it tied in perfectly with the Strategic Coherence Plan skills we teach our students everyday — and that they recognized the civic responsibility, critical thinking and perseverance without us specifically saying that — was awesome!”

Fego and Greenfeld had a few goals for the visit, which was the first hands-on event aimed at preparing students for the annual CV Starr Young Innovators STEAM Expo in May. The primary goals were building relationships, exposing students to the wonders of robotics and innovation, and showing students that it is a field anyone can pursue.

“We want to establish a relationship between our high school students and our CV Starr students, a mentorship we hope to continue throughout the year,” Fego said. “We are hoping this mentorship will include helping our students come up with problems and possible solutions for this year’s Expo.”

“Brewster Central School District is unique in that it is a one-lane district,” Dr. Greenfeld added. “Relationships like this can be created and nurtured — between students, buildings, and educators.” 

CVS students controls robot

High school students and two alumni ran the event. They set the stage by bringing a worksheet full of essential questions to get the younger students thinking before they got a chance to play with the robots.

“Dr. Greenfeld’s students spoke to our students about the time it takes to create and innovate, the mistakes that are made along the way and the importance of critical thinking, problem solving and perseverance required for this type of project to be successful.”

“It is so fulfilling to watch the juniors and seniors become leaders and inspire our younger community members,” Greenfeld said. “It is equally inspiring to know that Brewster graduates want to give back to their community and share their experiences.”

The younger students could not wait to get their hands on the robot remotes and to cheer on their peers.

“My favorite part was using the remote so I could control it,” said third grader Noah Marcondes.

“I didn’t know that you could build a robot that big. I’d want to do that on a team,” said his classmate, Tatum Bettcher.

“The visit went exceptionally well,” said Fego. “Students were so excited and were talking about doing robotics here.” 

For her part, Greenfeld said her students “hoped to return with other activities that are robot-centered and possibly mentor students for the STEAM Fair in the spring.” 

We would like to send out a special thank you to our high school mentors and alumni volunteers: Brendan Burns, Tristan Eder, Hector Eligio, Anthony Fego (alumnus), Isabella Kollar (alumnus), Erik Vasquez, and Nathan Wdowski.

CVS students play with robot