Years of after-school math learning paid off spectacularly for a team of five Massachusetts middle school students: They beat 16 other finalist teams to win the prestigious International Zero Robotics Competition. In total, 300 teams across the USA, Russia and Puerto Rico competed in the five-week summer STEM program for middle schoolers.
Competition winners Arul Rhik Mazumdar, Kyle Klamka, Surabhi Sinha, Abhisar Anand and Shreyan Ronit Mazumder are longtime enrollees at the Mathnasium Learning Center of Acton/Concord. They attend several times per week after school and during summer, where they learn math, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and gain self-confidence. They have won a number of previous math awards with Mathnasium instructors as coaches.
The Aug. 9 competition determined which team's code was best at controlling the small Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, and Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) aboard the International Space Station. The goal was to hook two SPHERES together while avoiding space debris and conserving resources, such as fuel.
Math is at the heart of every STEM subject, and the children's education at Mathnasium was instrumental in their coding and robotics skills.
Seventh-grader Surabhi S. enjoyed putting mathematical theory into practice.
"Because I love geometry, the Zero Robotics competition was a great opportunity for me to apply coordinate geometry to imagine and solve a real-life problem."