Feel Good News: COVID-19 Edition

Gold Medalist shrinks the PPE deficit by hand-making over 600 masks

Eunice Lee, a high school junior from Reseda, California, is addressing the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) one stitch at a time.

She assembled and mailed an initial 235 kits, each containing 2 masks, disposable gloves, sanitizing wipes, and a heartfelt letter. Eunice soon found herself out of money and materials to continue so she set up a GoFundMe for her cause. Within a matter of weeks the project was revitalized by generous donors.

“I studied in the morning and spent my afternoons and many nights making masks. The process was undoubtedly tedious but it was worth every minute.” Eunice’s masks have been sent to pandemic epicenters all around the world like California, Germany, Italy, Korea, and New York.

 


16-year-old pilot flies medical supplies to rural hospitals

TJ Kim has turned his flying lessons into missions of mercy, bringing desperately needed supplies to rural communities in need. Dubbed “Operation SOS — Supplies Over Skies, TJ carries gloves, masks, gowns, and other equipment to small hospitals. “Every hospital is hurting for supplies, but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten.” TJ has been featured on AP News, NBC Nightly News: Kids Edition, and WSLS.


Siblings create non-profit to raise funds and support for local organizations

Annie and Jaime Wang moved from Texas to Hawaii in 2018. They were shocked to see how prevalent the homeless population was in Honolulu. To address the issue, the siblings established Support Hawaii Keiki, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on bringing help, hope, and happiness to homeless families.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Wangs launched a fundraising campaign to purchase over 400 medical masks and make a donation to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children to show their support to health professionals working on the front line.


Teen delivers surprise gift bags to local doctors & nurses

13-year-old Charles Hoppe delivered gift bags to Advent Health doctors and nurses in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Each bag included a drink, snacks, and a special letter of encouragement. “I’d been reading about COVID-19 and I know that everybody here is at a great risk and I wanted to do this to show my appreciation.” Read more.


Silver Medalist creates non-contact food and essentials delivery service

“Teens Helping Seniors” is an organization that aims to provide no-contact grocery deliveries to senior citizens and other vulnerable populations. Dhruv Pai of Potomac, Maryland says he started the organization when he saw a need that hit close to home. His grandparents were scared to leave their home to go grocery shopping, so he offered to help. That’s when he realized other people might be in a similar situation. Learn more about Dhruv’s work.


‘Performing a civic duty’

Simoni Mishra works with children from other schools in Montgomery County, Maryland to create Personal Protective Equipment to deliver to the county office. She makes and delivers 25 masks in each batch. “The email from county officials shows the desperate need for PPE. And emergency workers do so much for us…this is a tiny contribution from my part to do my civic duty.” In addition, Simoni also sends inspirational video messages to nearby seniors and the elderly care center where she volunteers.


Zachery deploys traveling library service for COVID-19 relief

Through his own service project, Gustine Traveling Library, Zachery Ramos is distributing free vegetables to those in need, free water to a local elderly home, and making masks to give out to fieldworkers and first responders to keep them safe. Zachery’s team has provided 100 gallons of water, 30+ plus bags of vegetables, and 50 masks already!


Song = Therapy

The world around us is changing every second. Anjali Sanghavi of Fairfax, Virginia felt that as a high school student there was only so much she could do to help others while staying safe at the same time. So she decided to do the thing she loves the most…sing! Anjali assembled a group of singer friends and called all of her family and friends to put together a message for those on the frontline fighting the coronavirus. She has shared her message of hope with hospitals, medical professionals, senior homes, and those who are alone during this crisis in hopes that it “makes them feel not so alone!”


Teen shares science lessons online

Before the quarantine, Dhruv Balaji created an organization called Spectrum Robotics to teach robotics to children with autism through in-person sessions. He brought together a group of high school students interested in robotics to teach the classes.

Now that everyone is stuck at home, Dhruv is trying to make an impact digitally by making videos about simple computer science to educate children who are interested. “I really enjoy educating people and knowing that I made a difference in their life, whether I am physically there with them or not.”


‘A beautiful gesture from today’s youth’

15-year-old Ayush Desai felt compelled to help first responders in his Woodbridge and Edison, New Jersey. He contacted local businesses asking for either monetary donations or supplies to benefit the Avenel Fire Department and Woodbridge Police Department. Ayush was humbled by the generosity of community members who helped him raise nearly $1,000 ($400 of his own money) and materialize 400 masks, 50 boxes of gloves, and several boxes of sanitizer. “Hopefully this will be the start of something that can change many more lives.”


New Jersey teen launches 24-hour mask-a-thon

On Sunday, April 5th, Isaac Buckman of Manapalan, New Jersey constructed face masks and face shields for 24 hours straight, without any extended breaks. He streamed the entire process live on Twitch. In the end, Isaac was able to make over 200 face masks and 5 face shields that he donated to his local hospital.

“My goal was to motivate others to help out in the effort against COVID-19, whether this be by making masks or by getting groceries for those who are more at risk.” Learn more about Isaac’s project at App.com, New Jersey News Network, and The Two River Times.


Silver Medalist prepares neighbors for the fight

“This pandemic has affected everyone’s life in different ways and I wanted to provide people with a little relief and ease the stress for attaining the necessary equipment to fight the virus.” Before the demand for masks went high, Runfei (Ray) Zhou of Temecula, California was already advocating the need to wear protective masks on his social media platforms. After finding suppliers, he collected and received donations from friends and family to purchase an initial box of masks. Ray then went to grocery stores and big box stores to hand out masks to employees and residents. He later posted on the neighborhood app Nextdoor to garner more attention from his community. Before his state’s stay-at-home order, Ray even delivered masks to seniors and residents with pre-existing health conditions as well as his local park.


Helping the community through ‘dignified service’

With help from Hearts for the Homeless International, Valory Anne Vailoces of Lakeland, Florida created portable hand-washing stations for the homeless at food shares in Orlando and Tallahassee, Florida. She also helped educate food share volunteers about social distancing and personal hygiene measures in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Without the foods shares, hundreds of homeless people would go hungry. We want to show volunteers and the homeless that they are not forgotten and that someone cares enough to keep them healthy.”


Sibling Gold Medalists turn frustration into action

Caroline and Ian Bonner were both notified that they had each earned The Congressional Award Gold Medal earlier this year. Fast forward a few months: The coronavirus hits and their plans to travel to Washington, D.C. this summer for the Gold Medal Ceremony came to a sudden halt. Instead of planning their trip to the nation’s capital, they decided to put the spirit of The Congressional Award into action in their community by packing and distributing food through a local non-profit. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to serve.”


Leadership grows in times of crisis

As news of the coronavirus first broke several months ago, Eric Chang of Johns Creek, Georgia sought to find a way to help those in China who had been affected. Of course, the disease soon made its way to the United States. From this point, Eric understood that it was but a matter of time before it would impact his own community, so he began to assemble a team and develop an idea to combat the issue locally. Within the first few weeks, he was able to create a base for his newly founded nonprofit, Covid Care, establishing that their mission would be to use our actions to encourage more students to act out. Erica was able to partner with OurHouse Atlanta, Caringworks, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and several more, spending weeks just collecting supplies and materials from drives and donations.

Since Eric’s team knew that many materials, such as face masks and hand sanitizer, were limited and highly expensive, they decided to construct their own. Following their first distribution, Covid Care released a documentary outlining their work, launched a website, and secured a sponsor – multiplying their impact to hundreds of individuals across the state.

“We are now looking to expand upon the student network that we had originally conceived, and we want to build a channel across the country with branches led by student nonprofits and organizations.”


Non-profit founder rises to the occasion

In 2018, Srilaasya Yenduri of Portland, Oregon established the student-led non-profit organization CyberBORN to help impoverished children gain better access to education, food, and shelter in places like India, Guatemala, and Ethiopia. Since the coronavirus outbreak, CyberBORN has delivered over 200 masks to senior homes and a local children’s hospital. “We are also in the process of establishing digital classrooms in orphanages so that remote learning can finally be a reality in rural parts of India. Additionally, we will be sponsoring meals for doctors and nurses in the coming weeks.”


Teen connects organizations with youth volunteers

Volunteers are needed now more than ever to combat the spread of the coronavirus and provide relief to community members. Students are out of school with many looking for purposeful ways to fill their days. But Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania teen Nicholas Zonarich noticed one piece was missing – connecting organizations in need with volunteers in a simple and efficient way. “This is where I realized that I could help.”

In summer 2019, Nicholas created a website, jrvolunteer.org, to promote youth volunteer opportunities in his community. He has since connected 100 organizations with 20,000 local students. Jrvolunteer.org is now providing the link between local youth and organizations in need of volunteers to support many needs in the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many benefits come from volunteering for youth: improvement and/or development of new skills, decreased stress, and a sense of purpose. In some way, if many can find a way to contribute to the common good, our communities will remain strong. I challenge all youth to find a way to add value to their community by getting involved now or in the future.”


Middle school student 3D prints ‘Ear Savers’ for medical professionals

Krishna Venugopal of The Woodlands, Texas wanted to help his area medical community. He came across an idea for ‘Ear Savers,’ a product designed to alleviate the pressure and irritation caused by the bands of face masks when worn for extended periods of time.

Having never even seen a 3D printer before, Krishna felt compelled to borrow one from a friend to create his own ear savers. He spent a week researching the technology and resources for beginners then built his first prototype in about 5 hours. Krishna has now made a total of 30 ear savers and distributed to three doctors/practitioners for use in their practices. “The experience has been very uplifting and satisfying for me in that I have been able to contribute my little bit to our community and have learned that every small bit counts.”


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Tools and tips for navigating The Congressional Award during COVID-19

A letter to our community:

We realize this is an uncertain time and it is becoming increasingly difficult to complete your Congressional Award activities.

Luckily, our program is designed to be flexible for participants and our team remains available for you as we enter uncharted territory together.

We’ll get through this together by extending our kindness, keeping healthy, and remaining connected virtually.

Your friends at The Congressional Award


It’s helpful to remember…

1) Participants have until their 24th birthday to complete any level of the award, removing any perceived timeline pressure and allowing participants to safely and comfortably complete their activities.

2) Activities DO NOT have to be logged in consecutive months. You may pause your goals and resume them at any point, completing the program at your own pace.

3) During the next few months, our team is will show more leniency with direct vs. indirect service requirements, enabling participants to complete the bulk of their activities from the safety of their homes. Read the full statement here.

4) Participants may change or adjust their goals to suit social distancing and self-isolation practices.


Creative service ideas that fit social distancing

-Meeting immediate needs: Making and/or securing PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks, face shields, isolation gowns, disposable gloves to be donated to health workers.

-Volunteering remotely for non-profit organizations

-Assisting public schools with the implementation of remote learning and/or helping educators with grading/administrative work

-Virtual tutoring/mentoring

-Packaging and delivering essential supplies to the elderly or home-bound or to students who rely on meals from their schools

-Organizing digital fundraisers for non-profits or crisis response groups

-Writing letters to those serving in the armed forces abroad, children in medical isolation, or persons under quarantine

-Making articles of clothing for hospital patients

-Donating blood the safe way

-Making signs and writing thank you notes for first responders, hospital staff, and medical workers.

Many organizations are offering free online classes, webinars, and workshops that can be completed from home. These may be creative solutions to accomplish goals in other programs like Personal Development and Physical Fitness.


Resources

COVID-19 Updates – Learn how we are responding.

Program Book – Download this guide for your one-stop-shop to the program.

Record Book – Set your goals and document your activities on the Record Book.

Contact Us – Need assistance? Find your program manager and receive a quick response.

Media Center – Stay up to speed with the latest news and updates from Congress’ award for youth, join our email list, and connect with other participants and supporters on social media.

Call for 2020 Gold Medal Record Books

Going for Gold this year?

In order to be eligible for the 2020 Gold Medal class, participants must meet two deadlines:
Record Books are due no later than February 1, 2020
Revisions are due no later than March 15, 2020


Are you planning to be part of the annual Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this summer? Be sure to submit your Gold Medal Record Book to the national office no later than February 1, 2020 at 11:59 p.m ET. This is a postmark, email, and fax deadline.

Submissions made after February 1st will be grouped with the 2021 Gold Medal class.

If you currently have a submission in review or pending, you have until March 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET to submit any revisions.

Unsure about your status?
Contact your state’s program manager with your question.

Meet the 2020 Gold Medal class:
Once again, this year’s class is on pace to be the largest in program history. See where each hail from.

Q&A with Program Manager Makaila

We sat down with the newest member of our team, Makaila Davenport, to learn more about what motivates her and why she chose The Congressional Award.

Prior to joining our team, Makaila held congressional experience in the offices of U.S. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and Scott Rigell (VA-02), focusing on legislative affairs and constituent relations. Ms. Davenport also served as Assistant to the Director of Congressional Relations for the Peace Corps.

Makaila holds a B.A. from Hampton University and has commissioned as an Army Reserves 2nd Lieutenant. She is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Why did you choose The Congressional Award as the next step in your professional career?
I was introduced to The Congressional Award while working at Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s office and I admired the mission to encourage youth to make a more positive impact in their community while also improving their lives by accomplishing their own personal goals. I wanted to work for an organization that held the same passion I do for youth and community.

What’s trending in your life?
My favorite show is Grey’s Anatomy. One of my sorority sisters made me watch it a couple of years ago and I have been hooked since. Waiting for the rest of the season to air in January is killing me! Also, my newfound hobby is painting. I went to a paint night with my mom a couple of weeks ago and I am actually pretty good at it!

Is there a moment from your childhood that you use as inspiration in adulthood?
My parents always stressed the importance of honesty and integrity. I think having integrity is one of the most important traits a person should possess. It is always important to me to make sure that my integrity is never compromised regardless of the circumstances.

How do you adapt The Congressional Award program areas to your life?
Voluntary Public Service: I am currently working on starting a non-profit called NextStep. It is a program geared towards helping youth and young adults that have been diagnosed with a blood disorder. We give back by donating to local hospitals and charities as well as donating money to help lift some of the financial pressures that many families experience in order to give their child the best treatment possible.

Personal Development: I love music and have always been avid about learning about different languages and cultures. I play the piano and the violin and I am currently working on learning Spanish!

Physical Fitness: I am in the United States Army and because of this it is very important to stay fit and healthy. I enjoy running and competing in races with my family as well as doing any fun physical activities.

Expedition/Exploration: I have always loved to travel and have been to many different countries over the years but my new goal for 2020 is to explore and visit all 50 states. There is so much culture and history that can be found within the United States borders and I want to experience it with my friends and family.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My biggest accomplishment so far has been joining the military and commissioning as an Army Reserves 2nd Lieutenant. I am very passionate about my country and it is a great honor to serve. There is a long line of army officers in my family and I am proud to carry on such a profound and rewarding legacy.

What advice would you give newly registered Congressional Award participants?
To work hard and make sure that your hours are completed by doing something you are passionate about. The goal is to continue your service far beyond earning the Gold Medal and to continue making a difference.


As Central Program Manager, Makaila is your contact if you reside in the following states:
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming.

SEND A MESSAGE TO MAKAILA

My STEM Story: Aman Shaik

Aman used his ability and passion for robotics to teach workshops and bridge cultural gaps.


Malala Yousafzai once stated, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” It is said that once you teach someone a concept you tend to learn the concept better.

My robotics journey started when I was a 3rd grader. I have loved building Legos as a child but watching my Legos come to life was astounding. I started to get involved in multiple robotics Lego league teams through a program called FLL (FirstLego League). Each robotic season we had a new robot with a new name and built it depending on the certain theme.

After all those many years of building robots with Legos it was time to move on to more complex robots. When I became a 7th grader, I began to build robots out of metal pieces and enrolled in First Tech Challenge.

I volunteered at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Florida showcasing these Lego robots. Children were baffled when they saw these objects driving on the floor. At this time, I realized it was time to teach robotics in underprivileged areas.

India, a developing country, is a beautiful place. It’s a place like no other. For someone traveling there every year since a toddler it’s a place you can’t miss. I decided to serve as a youth ambassador for the North South Foundation’s APNA program. My mom is from Hyderabad, so I decided to volunteer at the Vidyaniketan School. I remember walking into the classroom and everyone standing upright as if they were soldiers and stated, “Good morning, brother!” I found this very surprising since they were relatively the same age as me.

I first began teaching 8th graders the robotics workshop. The first day they built the robots and found it fun. The boys and girls were split into separate groups and the girls built the robots faster due to their organization and cooperation. The boys group had some commotion because they were deeply engaged. The next day we programmed the robots using the software on the computers I had brought.

One thing that stood out to me was the pride they showed when they finished. It was such a great thing to see. The boys and girls individually showed the principal their robot and how it moved.

Word about the workshop grew quickly. The 9th graders saw the robots and wanted to participate. They individually talked to the academic director and stated that they wanted to experience this workshop. They were given the chance and I did the same workshop for the 9th graders.

They asked me if I knew Hindi and Urdu. It was a big deal for them to see someone their age but from a different country. I felt great that I had helped some kids that did not have the learning experiences I had as a child.

Overall, The Congressional Award has motivated me to give back to the global community. It is a humbling experience to have the opportunity to help others and to make a difference. The Congressional Award opened my eyes regarding time management and tracking. I now keep track of not just my volunteer, personal development, and physical fitness but also time spent on academics, with friends and family, etc.

I made new friends overseas and made an impact on over 50 kids the same age as me. What I did was a simple thing that anyone can do. Anyone can change someone’s life for good.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

My STEM Story: Luke Jankowski

Luke harnessed his environmental science studies to provide disaster relief and build stronger communities.


Many of my Voluntary Public Service activities involved STEM. Volunteering as a hurricane relief worker in New Orleans through Camp Restore serves as an example. I used carpentry and engineering to rebuild and provide maintenance of homes for under-served people who suffered severe damage to their homes due to Hurricane Katrina.

One homeowner had been the victim of a contractor who had been paid to re-build her home but had re-used wet, ruined insulation resulting in severe mold growth throughout her house. Working with others, I demolished the interior walls and ceiling of her four-room, one-story house, removed the offensive insulation and then installed clean, dry insulation, carried, placed, and nailed new dry-wall, and then taped and plastered the walls and ceilings.

Through this experience, I learned not only carpentry and engineering skills but also how to work safely on a construction site.

In Puerto Rico, my group partnered with a local grassroots organization named CAMBU to work on projects designed to aid the local community as it struggled to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

In particular, CAMBU acquired an abandoned school and surrounding land with the goal of turning it into a multi-purpose community center with a kitchen, garden, and meeting center for the people of Las Marias. One of my projects included making the empty kitchen utilitarian by constructing shelving units through cutting planks, assembling them into shelves and painting them.

In creating a community garden with the people of Las Marias for the purpose of providing fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and a meeting location, I weeded, tilled, terraced, and fertilized the soil on a hillside with others and was then tasked with determining the best lay-out for the fruit trees, vegetables, and sitting areas. I dug holes for and planted numerous banana trees to provide shade as well as fruit. I then established, leveled, and stabilized the area for the sitting benches and finally placed the benches.

During this process I learned a farming technique known as the “crescent moon” where a hole in the shape of a crescent moon is dug for the plant to be placed because, when rainwater falls, the design of the hole makes it so that the soil around the base of the plant does not flood and creates soil stability, especially on a hillside.

Most recently, I volunteered at Third Street Elementary School in Los Angeles to help educate students on environmental science by applying concepts I learned in my high school class. I created a fun, informative PowerPoint for the third-grade students and, with them, assembled a self-sustaining Eco-Zone System to demonstrate how the three primary environments interact with each other.

Furthermore, I helped reclaim lost garden space and created an eco-friendly area that utilizes rainwater capture systems to water vegetation and serves as an outdoor learning area. I learned how to better apply STEM concepts I learned in my environmental science course, such as how to retain and reuse rainwater, to real life situations.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

My STEM Story: Krishna Parikh

Krishna Parikh analyzed DNA sequences for her Congressional Award Personal Development goal.


While striving to achieve The Congressional Award Gold Medal, I tapped into my interest in genetic engineering, research, and science in general.

As part of the Authentic Science Research class at my high school, I was able to participate in hands-on laboratory work. We correlated with the Waksman Student Scholars Program at Rutgers, following their procedures and techniques.

The current project is to focus on the DNA sequences of the duckweed plant Landoltia punctata and to further analyze the genes they are associated with. Duckweed is of interest because of its use in bioremediation and its potential in being a biofuel. Through this project, it is hoped that the genes compare to those found in other species.

Each of the students, including me, participate by isolating and sequencing genes from a cDNA library. These sequences have not been determined yet, so if a student successfully analyzes one, it will be published in GenBank. By comparing these sequences to similar ones of other eukaryotes, we are able to understand the evolutionary relationship between the two. This was accomplished through multiple lab days and through multiple hours sequencing on the DNA Sequencing Analysis Program (DSAP).

To increase these newly acquired skills, I attended a meeting at GenSpace in Brooklyn, New York. The meeting pertained to Optogenetics, which is a genetic tool that makes cells responsive to light.

Through the various experimentation, the end goal is to perfect an optogenetic system in which different colors of light shine onto a petri dish and cause the bacteria to respond. This response can lead to bacteria photographs with high resolution and the control of gene expression and useful enzymes, such as Taq Polymerase, in 2D.

By spending time with professionals and learning in the lab, I perfected my pipetting skills and better understood proper lab technique. I also learned how to transfer bacteria, making it anti-resistant to antibiotics such as ampicillin and kanamycin.

The most unfamiliar concept I worked with, regarding the optogenetic systems, was the on-off ratios. This ratio determines the resolution of a bacterial photograph produced by comparing the parts of the petri dish where light was directed to the parts where it was not. It is measured in Miller Units and requires the usage of a spectrometer that tells us the wavelengths of the produced light.

As the youngest in this class, it is difficult to fully understand what is going on at all times. This allows me to challenge myself and forces me to think beyond my comfort zone. I still attend these classes monthly, and I cannot wait to see the developments made.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

My STEM Story: Juan Aleman

2019 Gold Medalist Juan Aleman uses STEM skills to educate others and grow personally


While working towards my Congressional Award Gold Medal, I dedicated 385 hours as the head programmer, lead robot driver, and co-captain of the 4-H robotics team G-FORCE. My team works out of Accident, MD, but we also participate in numerous Community Outreach events globally.

SuGO, a game with sumo wrestling robots, is one of the most popular STEM activities and the reason I became interested in STEM. Utilizing SuGO, virtual reality, rockets, WeDO, and many other STEM activities, I volunteered at the West Virginia Children’s Hospital, Maryland State Fair, Mineral State Stem Festival, and 4-H Volunteer Forum.

I have had the opportunity to be the referee and robot and field inspector at FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Qualifiers and State Championships in three different states. All of these activities are free STEM activities available to the public.

  

The most memorable STEM events were the military activities, the largest of which was the Air Force STEM initiative. Team G-FORCE was given a budget of $250,000 to buy, package, and ship STEM products to over 52 Air Force bases. We live streamed webinars taught by the team members on how to use the STEM kits. The team also hosted two one-week residential Navy STEM camps where forty 4-Hers from bases abroad (Japan, Bahrain, and Italy) and domestic (Georgia) were taught lessons on hardware and software by me and my fellow mentors.

I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the USA Science & Engineering Festival where I volunteered at three booths: FIRST, 4-H, and Maker Space. While there, I demonstrated the robotics competition, lead the Junk Drawer Robotics, and ran the software that cut vinyl stickers, adding additional creativity to the patrons’ work.

Following this year’s festival, I joined my 4-H robotics coach in a special project where we learned a new programming language together. We were tasked by the Oakland Lions Club to create a belt sander race for their jubilee that they could use for years.

Last year my FIRST Tech Challenge team had a very intuitive program for our robot. It was able to make decisions about which claw to open and close and how high to raise its arm, based on simple choices made by me and my co-pilot. This year we plan to make the robot even smarter. As head programmer, I have already moved on from using pre-programmed vision software, to creating a custom image processing pipeline.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

My STEM Story: Othoniel Batista Sinclair

Othoniel of Silver Spring, Maryland applies his love for STEM towards his Congressional Award goals.


I began participating in STEM three years ago with an Air Force camp at Joint Base Andrews. There they taught us how to create music beats, build 3D images, and write programs.

Then I joined Maryland Metro Warriors, a STEM oriented program affiliated to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Through this program I participated in scrimmages and several robotics competitions at the state and national level. Our High School team competed  at the NSBE National Convention in Pittsburgh last year placed 5th.

      

I am currently the Vice-President of the NSBE Junior Chapter “The Dynamic Mathematical Visionaries,” out of Howard University. Here I am involved with Vex Robotics team. Our chapter participated in the 2018 Fall Regional Conference (FRC) and was able to compete with the Howard University Math Competition Team!

My passion is building robots and I look forward to attending an engineering university where I can build robots that can help us improve our environment and save our planet. I have learned to work as a team with others and join ideas to come up with great projects. Teamwork and respect has been critical to the success of our team.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.