South Orangetown Central School District


SO BOTZ is headed back to the FIRST World Championship!

At the Finger Lakes FIRST Robotics Competition Regional last weekend, judges presented Team 6911 with the Engineering Inspiration Award, which “celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school or organization and community.” Regional winners of the award qualify for the FIRST World Championship, which will be held in Houston, April 17-20.

“This is a big accomplishment! We’ve been building on what the team started back in 2017,” said Project Manager Molly C. “The last group of team members who had been to Worlds (in 2019) graduated last year. We are a close team and are excited to experience this opportunity and meet teams from around the world together.”

This will be the team’s third trip to Worlds in its brief, seven-year history. In 2018, Team 6911 advanced to Worlds after earning the FIRST Rookie All-Star Award at the SBPLI Regional and returned in 2019 after participating on the winning alliance at the SBPLI Regional. Two past SO BOTZ members earned recognition for leadership and personal technical achievement and won their way to Worlds individually as Dean’s List Award Finalists in 2019 and 2020 (virtual), respectively.

“For the Engineering Inspiration Award, we knew that judges wanted to see metrics and measurable impact, so we really focused on communicating our growth since 2021 in our submission and in all of our interaction,” Molly stated, referring to the team’s efforts to rebound from the loss of two competition seasons during the pandemic.

Outreach has been a key focus for SO BOTZ over the past three seasons. The team assists and mentors other teams, leads a computer science education partnership in Kenya through the Kiwimbi Foundation and participates in the District’s K-5 Tech Night, CodeCon at SOMS and a host of other events in our schools and community to generate interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Membership has become a capstone experience for many TZHS students and the program inspired the development of a project-based, FIRST Robotics elective at Tappan Zee High School.

The team has also had success with its 2024 season robot, Gladiator, and was on the Finalist alliance at the Hudson Valley FIRST Robotics Competition Regional earlier this month.

“Our swerve (omnidirectional) drive-train was two years in the making,” explained Build Lead Jack P. “We started working on it during the summer of 2022 and just kept developing it. We’re also using Kraken X60 motors, which were just released in the fall. They’re much more powerful than the motors we’ve used before.”

Advancements have also been made on the software side. “During autonomous (driverless) game play, Gladiator can score with a preloaded piece, as well as pick up a new piece and score from three different starting positions,” Assistant Project Manager Calum T. noted.

Programming improvements to vision software “allow our drive team to see the April tags on targets and align our shooter to score more efficiently,” added Software Lead/Technician Louis F.

Advisor and Computer Science teacher Karen Connell echoed team members’ excitement. “We were one of just four of the 54 teams at the Finger Lakes Regional that earned their way to Worlds,” she said. “Having the opportunity to compete at Worlds three times in only seven years is a tremendous accomplishment.”

SO BOTZ is grateful for the support of advisors Karen Connell, Barbara Murphy and Patty Eyer; mentors Joey Gottlieb, Nico Cabrera, Mark Gottlieb, Vanessa Lapins, Ed LoPresti and Jen Citrolo; and sponsors Goosetown Communications, Orange & Rockland Utilities, Werfen,, Telemetrics, Celtic Sheet Metal, Gene Haas Foundation and the South Orangetown Central School District. The team’s registration fee for Worlds is being paid for by NASA.