When the Illinois’
District 113 high school robotics team and the Yerucham Israel robotics team
first met via Skype back in September, they never would have imagined that both
would make it to the FIRST World
Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. Yet that is exactly what happened
last week when both teams competed at the Edward Jones Dome in the heart of the
Upon learning their teams
would be in the same city, Israeli team coach Reuven Stahl of Yerucham invited
District 113 to join them for a kosher meal. What ensued was a genuinely authentic
and personal experience as students, mentors and parents spent hours engaging
in conversation to deepen their already-established connection.
Highland Park/Deerfield and Yerucham robotics teams meet in St. Louis.
The teams then
brainstormed how to continue to grow this friendship and how they could help
support each other during future seasons. Ideas included: creating a summer Arduino
challenge that both teams would work on solving; brainstorming to help
problem-solve during next year’s season; communicating within a Facebook group
and more. Both teams expressed interest in future opportunities to spend time
together either in Israel or in the U.S.
“We are hoping to create an
Israeli [First Tech Challenge] team and bring this Israeli FTC team to Chicago
to visit and compete,” District 113 coach Jonathan Weiland said.
The District 113 robotics team,
comprised of teams from both Highland Park and Deerfield High School, sent two
teams to the World Championships to compete in the FTC: Beastie Bots, who were
the Illinois State Champions in 2014, and Robot to the Knee – both from HPHS.
Robot to the Knee consists
of eight students: Sam Ephraim, Max Grosshandler, Max Lowery, Daniel Mouscher,
Kyle Rabin, Alec Ratnaswamy, Aaron Retsky and Pia Sanpitak. They have been mentored
by parent volunteer Patiant Sanpitak. This year's Beastie Bots has six members
who are juniors and seniors: Jacob Burroughs, Shira Shartiag, Sam Chase, Rory
Miller, Ben Rubin and Justin Garfinkle. They have been mentored by a number of
parent volunteers with on-site support at the competition by Michael Shartiag, who
has provided mentoring and support to the Beastie Bots for the past four years.
Other Highland Park robotics members, Max Mesirow, Michael Rascati, Barrett Turnoy
and AJ Zasky assisted the team at the World Championships.
Highland Park’s Sister City, has one large FRC team comprised of 26 students
from three different high schools. Yerucham is a growing city in the Negev with
a diverse population of about 9,500 residents. The leaders of the robotics
program there said that the city has some economic challenges but that there is
strong support behind and interest in the robotics team. About 30 percent of
the students participate in this activity which offers them the opportunity to
learn computer programming, design and mechanics as well as the skills associated