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John Jay's Robotics Club has received a $1,900 grant from the KL Foundation to be used towards the purchase of equipment. The grant proposal was written by Jonathan Berganza, a junior.
“Jonathan is the first student to ever directly apply for a grant,” said Madeleine Polemeni, KL Foundation’s founding board chairwoman. “Kudos to you and the work you are doing,” she wrote to Beganza in her letter of notification.
The robotics program at John Jay High School is growing faster than you can say programmable logical controller. Robotics was introduced into the Engineering class last year, along with an extracurricular Robotics Club.
This year the school fielded three competitive robotics teams, one of which placed first in the Hudson Valley's FIRST Tech Challenge qualifying tournament.
The ability to communicate—to your team, and to potential sources of funding—is an essential aspect of robotics. Components are expensive, and the field of robotics is entrepreneurial. Robotics competitions encourage fundraising as a life skill: to be eligible for the FIRST Tech Challenge Team, students are required to raise money to purchase equipment and pay registration fees. John Jay High School’s program is adapting to this reality.
“I see KL Foundation's grant as a pilot case,” said Zoeller. “The students will all search and apply for grants to purchase equipment for the Robotics Club as well as advanced manufacturing equipment such as CNC machines and 3D printers.”
Students are offering Robograms—robot delivered candy—at the high school in April to buy equipment for next year. (prototype on left)
They also plan to follow up with Nicole Polemini, the daughter of KL Foundation’s founding board chairwoman. She’s finishing her masters in astronautical engineering at Cornell Engineering, and will intern this summer at SpaceX and continue there after she finishes her masters, working on their Big Falcon Rocket.
“The key to Nicole’s success, she would tell you, is the work she has done the past four years building different Mars rover prototypes for the Cornell Mars Rover Team,” said Madeleine Polemeni. “Nicole looks forward to sharing her knowledge with John Jay students.”
The KL Foundation was established in 2010 to facilitate the funding of creative project ideas of teachers, administrators, parents, students and all members of the community.
Past projects the public school foundation has funded include $1,375 to Katonah-Lewisboro Family University for a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program, $2,275 to John Jay Middle School for a sound equipment in the auditorium, and $3,090 to John Jay Middle School for “How Water Shapes,” a new science curriculum.