Members of International Game Technology (IGT) met with students and leaders at Bayside High School on April 29 to celebrate IGT’s donation of state-of-the-art computer equipment and technology to the school’s robotics team, Bayside Robotics Commodores.
As part of the celebration, the team put on a special demonstration. The donation comes after Bayside Robotics finished as semifinalists in a recent VEX competition. Queens Councilwoman Vickie Paladino was also on hand for the ceremony.
IGT’s donation comes as part of its After School Advantage program, aimed at providing kids with access to technology in safe after-school environments. The new equipment is meant to support the school’s advanced robotics programming and augment the team’s competition bids. It will help advance students’ skills in developing programmable robots and prepare them to build competition-grade robots. It will also be used during specific classroom demonstrations and related events.
“As a global leader in gaming technology, we recognize the importance of STEM programs and applaud Bayside High School for making robotics and programming a part of its extracurricular activities,” IGT New York Development Manager Paul Stelmaszyk said. “For more than 20 years, IGT’s After School Advantage program has helped thousands of young people have access to powerful combinations of the most advanced technology and learning resources and this latest donation to Bayside [High School] will allow students to continue exploring STEM careers and set them up for future success.”
The Bayside Robotics VEX team was founded by two students in 2017 for the purpose of building and competing with robots. The program has since grown to 20 students today, with 10 members making up a team that competes in local and regional competitions in the southern New York region of VEX robotics, including a semifinalist finish at Long Island’s Malverne High School competition.
“We are so appreciative of IGT’s generosity and commitment to after-school programs,” Bayside High School Partnership Development Director Sara Margolin said. “Our after-school programs are such an integral part of Bayside — they provide the energy, excitement and joy of student life. Our students have missed their club activities during the pandemic when they were separated from their teachers, mentors and peers. We are so grateful for this opportunity to bring the joy of robotics back into our students’ lives.”
According to Bayside Robotics Faculty Adviser Sandra Rossi, the students enjoy the engaging work they perform on the robots. They are getting valuable life skills through this work. The students take pride in digging in and getting their hands dirty, using tools, building, making mistakes and learning from them, debugging and optimizing code, connecting with other teams and working through problems that occur once their robot is on the field.
“Five seasons ago, our founding robotics team began a tradition of inclusion, team spirit and hard work that continues in our program today,” Rossi said. “Thanks to IGT’s generous donation, our students can continue to drive the success and growth of our team. They are very self-motivated and inquisitive and learn by doing.”
IGT has been promoting the advancement of tech literacy and STEAM opportunities by giving youths access to technology since the After School Advantage program’s founding in 1999. An assortment of computers, online technology, computer software, furniture and volunteer hours are donated to the nonprofits they partner with for each after-school program.