Kids become engineers at Robotics4U

A 'very cool' way to study STEM subjects: Students and parents delight in creations that 'do whatever you want them to do'

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  • Tanya Sinha, center, with friends. The robot has just released the green ball hitting the pyramid (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Monali Verma with a young enthusiast (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Pravin Jegan with his maze-running robot (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Ashok and Swathi Sathiyamoorthy with their robot Puppy (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Anish Sinha, Arnav Sinha, and Anay Verma, cousins and robot aficionados (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Vivek Sinha demonstrated a robot (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Swathi and Ashok Sathiyamoorthy with Ronan Patel (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Ashok and Swathi Sathiyamoorthy with their parents Deepa and Sathiyamoorthy Kunchithapatham (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

“The ultrasonic sensor sends out sound waves, like a bat does, and receives it, and the infrared sensor does the same thing with light. So it follows a wall, and when the sensor sees an obstacle, it tells it to turn.”
Sixth-grader Pravin Jegin

By Ginny Privitar

— Judging by the constant stream of visitors, the open house at the new Robotics4U center generated a lot of interest — so much that instructor Monali Verma agreed to add classes. Sign-up sheets filled up quickly.

Here children from kindergarten through eighth grade can learn robotics and associated skills while having fun. On display were a number of different robots made with Lego kits. But these are not your father’s Legos. Instead, these Lego robots use motors and sensors to perform programmed activities. Coding for the programs is done with easy visual instructions provided on a computer.

Throughout the room, kids and adults enjoyed the robots' performances.

“You can make your robots do whatever you want to do," Ashok Sathiyamoorthy said. “They’re made out of Legos so you can build whatever you want.”

Ashok and his sister, Swathi, demonstrated their “Puppy” robot, which won the highest points in a recent competition by successfully completing a maximum number of “mission tasks” within a set time period. Among other things, they have programmed Puppy to walk, sit, jump, bark, and show “happy eyes” when he’s petted.

“My favorite part about doing robots is the building part because you can create it however you want,” Swathi said. “You can modify it.”

Sixth-grader Pravin Jegin created a robot that can find its way out of a maze.

“The ultrasonic sensor sends out sound waves, like a bat does, and receives it, and the infrared sensor does the same thing with light,” he said. “So it follows a wall, and when the sensor sees an obstacle, it tells it to turn.”

A passion for teachingVerma has a degree in electrical engineering and put those skills to use as a teacher’s aide at Chester Elementary School, where she taught computer coding skills to students. Verma has a passion for teaching.

Realizing there were no robotics courses in the area, she decided to open a center and offer some herself. These courses should give students a leg up educationally in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects.

There are three different programs in six-week sessions:

The Junior Engineers, from kindergarten through grade 2, will learn basic robotics with robots Dash and Dot. At the open house, youngsters enjoyed using Dash to throw a ball and knock down a pyramid of plastic cups.

The Apprentice Engineers, grades 3 to 5, will use Lego Mindstorms EV3 programming to design, build and program their creations. Verma said this fun and engaging class will help students enhance their creativity, critical thinking skills, and communication while fostering collaboration and team spirit.

Engineers, grades 6 to 8, will also use Lego Mindstorms EV3 programs designed to engage and motivate students while stimulating their interest in learning about mechanical design. The class will improve their logical thinking skills and help them build and code using different motors and sensors. The process allows for a wide range of creative solutions.

Visitor Oliver Annucci, 6, of Chester, summed up why kids might try robotics.

“They’re very cool," he said.

Verma recently coached a team of kids new to robotics that entered a competition in Syracuse. The "CyberStormer" team of Arnav Sinha, Pravin Jegan, Ronan Patel, Ashok Sathiyamoorthy, and Abhilash Patel won awards for Fastest Robot Award in the Maze and High Point Award in the Mission Tasks.

Robotics4U classes will be held at the Orange County Sports Club, Studio B1 1743 Route 17A, Florida, NY 10921. The first round of classes started Nov. 7. The second session will start in January, after the winter break.

For more information, email, call 845-554-3106, or

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