3 Years in a Row: AC Qualifies for VEX World Championships

Posted on March 11th, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

For the third year in a row, an Allendale Columbia School team of fifth-graders earned an invitation to the VEX IQ Robotics World Championships.

On Saturday, March 9th, three fifth-grade teams from AC went to the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse to compete in the VEX IQ Northern New York State Robotics Competition.  A total of 24 teams of students in 5th to 8th grade won awards at local qualifiers to get there.

The MAGMAS, (composed of Morgan Wilson, Achanti Thongjang, Gia Pellegrino, Marc Voloshin, Amora Thongjang, and Sammy Davis) won the Excellence Award, which earned them the invitation to Worlds April 28th-30th, 2019. They will be one of 400 Middle School teams collaborating and competing from such countries as the U.S., China, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Colombia, South Korea, Egypt, Mexico, United Kingdom, Philippines, Finland, Myanmar, Estonia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and India. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Fifth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School

Robotics Teams Win Design, Amaze, and Research Awards

Posted on January 31st, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

by Donna Chaback

AC’s Gia helps direct the MAGMA team’s driver Amora in a Teamwork Challenge.

Allendale Columbia School teams brought home three awards at the VEX IQ Robotics Qualifier, and at least two teams, VEX Chargers and MAGMAS, will be going on to the State Championships.

The Qualifier was held Saturday, January 26th, at the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) in Syracuse. A total of 38 VEX IQ Robotics teams of students in Grades 4-8 participated. AC’s teams were all composed of 5th-graders. The State VEX IQ Championship will be held at the MOST on March 9th. AC has had teams go on to the World Championships in each of the last two years, with last year’s team winning one of the Sportsmanship awards. (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Fifth Grade, Fourth Grade, Highlights, Invent, Lower School

Is Your Child Starting From Behind? Why Others Look to AC for Early STEM Education

Posted on October 26th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

A delegation of educators from Belarus, seeking ways to boost innovation and economic development and cultivate a competitive workforce, visited Allendale Columbia School because of its reputation as the best school to visit for its “bottom-up” approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), which formally begins in Kindergarten. (more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

NASA Langley’s Deputy Director Encourages AC Students to Stay Curious

Posted on October 19th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Sure, you need to be smart and know some science and technology. But to succeed in landing on the moon, sending humans to Mars and back, or just about any goal, it takes a lot of curiosity, collaboration, communication, and the relentless pursuit of a dream. At least, that’s the message Clayton Turner conveyed to Allendale Columbia students from his 28 years of experience at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where he is Deputy Director.

“I have a strong belief that our future is right here in these classrooms.”

A Rochester native, Turner visited Allendale Columbia as part of a trip to meet with the President’s Roundtable at RIT, of which he’s a member. He never imagined he’d work for NASA at the time when he was a young boy and the first human walked on the moon. After attending McQuaid Jesuit High School, Monroe Community College, and enlisting in the Army, he still wasn’t sure. But he kept searching for the “passion in his heart” that ultimately landed him at his dream job at NASA, where he gets to help fulfill their mission to “Reach New Heights” and “Reveal the Unknown” to “Benefit All Mankind”. Now, he’s sharing that passion with others. He was connected to AC through Leslie Wilson, parent of 10th grader Myles Wilson and RIT’s Director of Alumni Relations.

Clayton Turner, Deputy Director of NASA’s Langley Research Center, met with a Middle School Robotics class.

He began the visit by ideas from the Middle School FIRST LEGO League Robotics class, coached by Teresa Parsons, on how to clean up and avoid space debris, which is the theme for this year’s robotics competition. “Remember, anything you shoot up into space to collect debris needs a big rocket to get it there, so that’s just going to add to the problem,” Turner said, challenging students to think about other methods, such as using equipment in orbit already or engineering items to degrade after their usefulness.

“Hands-on projects like robotics keep students enthusiastic about learning,” he asserted, having visited many schools across the country. We need to keep that curiosity flowing” if we’re to address the problems in the world today, he said. “And Robotics teams are actually a great exercise in teamwork and problem-solving” in addition to coding and technology. “After judging many competitions, I found that you can quickly see the groups that are working as a team and the groups that have one smart person directing everyone else.” “

AC 4th graders have been participating in a project based learning unit on space exploration. They impressed NASA’s Clayton Turner and his colleagues with their questions!

He then met with an enthusiastic group of fourth graders, who have been engaged in a multi-disciplinary project-based learning unit on space exploration since the beginning of the school year, led by Lower School STEM Lead Teacher Donna Chaback. They peppered him with questions, which he delightfully addressed, often with a question of his own to stimulate their thinking.

When asked if AC is succeeding on its core value to foster curiosity and creativity, he said, “I shared the questions that the 4th grade sent me with my colleagues back at Langley to show them how impressive they are. They were astounded when I told them ‘these are 4th graders!’, and they weren’t asking me about if aliens exist or any of that stuff, they were asking me about the Keiper system, black holes, trajectories for getting something to the moon from the earth. Things they’ve obviously heard in class and they are curious about and want to learn more.”

NASA’s Clayton Turner explained that communication, collaboration, and people skills are just as important as engineering and mathematics, and that NASA also needs psychologists, attorneys, accounts, and people from all professions in their quest to land humans on Mars.

He concluded his visit by talking to Upper School students in physics and 3D modeling classes. “No one can really be successful working alone any more. All of the work we do today involves interacting with teams of people from all over the world,” Turner told them. He related how his first job entailed working on a business-card-sized circuit board to aim lasers, but it was just a tiny part of a bus-sized satellite that so many other people worked on.

When asked by one student on what they needed to do to pursue a career at NASA, Turner noted that getting a college degree is only the starting point for a job at organizations like NASA. “That shows you can learn and know how to do some work,” he said. “Just as important is seeing evidence of teamwork, collaboration, and people skills.”

“When you think about sending people to Mars, you have a small group of people that will be in a space only this big,” he said, indicating a space about 12 feet square, “for eight months to get there, and another eight months getting back. We need scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, but we also need psychologists, people who have studied human behavior, to address these types of challenges. We also need accountants, lawyers, and people from all professions” in order to fulfill a quest like putting humans on Mars by the late 2030s.

Maya Crosby, Director of the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation who coordinated the visit, was especially pleased with that message. “One of the things we strive for in the Invent Center is to help broaden the appeal of STEM. We aim to help students understand that STEM is more than just hard technology, that these other fields are important to the success of technology-focused businesses.”

WHAM-13 covered Mr. Turner’s visit to AC. Click the image to see their video and recap.

NASA certainly explores some immense challenges. He said, “One thing I hope they take from this is the difference between hard and impossible, and sometimes replace one for the other, and that they get to know what’s just hard and requires work.”

Turner also warned against anyone who dismisses an idea with, “That’s not the way we’ve always done it.” He encouraged students to prize diverse thinking, to consider multiple perspectives, in order to solve problems. “It’s the wide range of thinking, that diversity of thought, that’s what’s going to help take on the challenges we have.”

“What I find most enjoyable is that I get to look into our future and see all the challenges that these students are going to overcome for us, all the amazing things that they are going to do.”

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Fifth Graders Win Sportsmanship at VEX-IQ World Championships

Posted on April 27th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Updated May 4th, 2018

On Saturday, April 28th, Allendale Columbia School fifth graders Eric Roof and Carter Previte left to go to the VEX IQ Robotic World Championship Competition, Elementary School Division, in Louisville, Kentucky. They came back on May 2nd having won one of four coveted divisional Sportsmanship Awards out of 400 teams participating! (more…)

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Posted in: Fifth Grade, Highlights, Lower School, LS Birches, MS Birches, The Birches, US Birches

Students, Sorrentino Shine at Digital Rochester’s Women in Technology Breakfast

Posted on April 27th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Women are increasingly studying technology and moving into technology careers. Local organization Digital Rochester and their Women in Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) recognized several local women at a breakfast on April 26th, including Allendale Columbia’s Director of Lower School Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Sue Sorrentino as a nominee for their 20th annual Technology Woman of the Year award.

At the event, five young women from AC also received a lot of attention. Fifth graders Victoria Timpani, Ella Herberger, and Maya Sams and talked about their all-girl VEX-IQ Robotics team Girls With Gears, while Liza ’20 and Mary ’22 Cotter showcased robots used in FIRST LEGO League and FTC Robotics competitions and discussed their technology learning and experiences. Their tables were crowded with attendees from large and small businesses in the Rochester area interested in their technological savviness.

Sue Sorrentino left a career in corporate engineering to address the urgency of building STEM fluency in early elementary age children to build and sustain interest in STEM through middle and high school. She and her team at Vista Teach Instructional Services, a company she founded and serves as Executive Director, have developed comprehensive programs in engineering education and optics for grades K-8, both in school and in after-school and summer programs, primarily at AC but also available to other schools. She has trained hundreds of robotics coaches throughout the Greater Rochester Area.

Sorrentino is in great company, as other nominees for the Technology Woman of the Year and Emerging Technology Professional Woman of the Year included women from such organizations as Rochester Regional Health, ITX, Harris Corporation, Datto, Constellation Brands, CloudCheckr, Luminate, KLDiscovery, University of Rochester, RIT, MCC, and Girl Discover It.

Digital Rochester provides events and community services to strengthen and grow the region’s technology community through education and relationship development.

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AC Teams Get Trophies at VEX State Championships

Posted on March 9th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

On Sunday, March 4th, 2018, Allendale Columbia Schools hosted the Northern New York State VEX IQ Robotic Championships. Fourteen teams, with team members ranging in age from grade 4 to grade 8, from across Upstate New York participated. Ten trophies were presented at this robotics competition and the Allendale Columbia Lower School teams took home four of them.

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AC Teams Win Awards at VEX Robotics Qualifiers

Posted on February 1st, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Three of Allendale Columbia School’s 5th grade Robotics teams advanced to the Northern New York State Championship in the VEX-IQ Challenge Qualifier on Saturday, January 27th, in Buffalo. They also brought home several awards, for a total of eight awards for 5th grade teams over just the past three years.

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