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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Students explain the mechanical design of their team robot.

The RoboPandas of P.S. 94 in Little Neck are geared up and ready to compete in a fast-paced robotics competition this weekend.

A group of fifth-grade students and their robot, Panda Recruit Ginny, will head to the Bronx this Saturday to compete among 60 teams at the FIRST LEGO League competition.

The team of eight students and four coaches have met once a week after school since the beginning of the year in preparation, students explained at a send-off event on Jan. 30. Split into researcher, builder and programming groups, students worked collaboratively to fulfill the contest’s two-part requirement: a research project and robot design.

For the research project, the group had to come up with a real-world problem related to this year’s theme, “Animal Allies,” and come up with a solution to solve it. They decided on “Feeding the Waterfowl is Fowl” — a campaign to deter people from feeding waterfowl living in public parks. The students created “MAM,” or Motion Activated Mallard: a device designed to deliver an audible message to passersby.

The students will present MAM to judges at Saturday’s competition and are slated to present the real-life solution to the NYC Park Department at an upcoming meeting.

Their robot, Ginny, was specially programmed and designed to complete a series of tasks at the competition. Students explained how they worked to give the robot a sturdy design while also making sure it was equipped with the attachments needed to perform.

“What’s great about FIRST LEGO League is that one of the values is to have fun,” said Ellie Glus, coach and fourth-grade teacher. “They do it not to win: it’s for their exploration. And it’s for them to learn and share.”

Student Jiayn Yan explained that being involved in the program has helped her grow in a multitude of ways.

“I’m a researcher,” Yan said. “We got to design the poster boards, research and learn about a lot of things. And we also got to know each other better and work with the robots.”

Yan said she is interested in mathematics and aspires to be a fashion designer or an airplane pilot when she grows up.

Councilman Paul Vallone also attended the RoboPandas’ send-off and wished them luck at Saturday’s competition.

P.S. 94 is located at 41-77 Little Neck Pkwy.

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