Jamaica kids take coding crown 1

Clockwise from top left, Sofia Khan, teacher and coach Yuvraj Verma, Daeshell Thompson, Xavier Adames, Abrahan Mendoza Tzoc and Randiel Castillo Abreu made for a great team at the Spring 2021 CoderZ Tournament.

A team of middle school students at the Growing Up Green Charter School in Jamaica made a name for themselves and their school this month when they were named New York State champions of the Spring 2021 CoderZ Tournament.

The school had five teams competing in the contest, which ran for the month of March. The team of Sofia Khan, Daeshell Thompson, Randiel Castillo Abreu, Abrahan Mendoza Tzoc and Xavier Adames was announced as the winner on April 4 according to teacher Yuvraj Verma, who coached the squad.

They competed against schools from Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Long Island and upstate.

“This competition is for students who are basically new to coding,” Verma said in a telephone interview.

After learning the basics, students had two tasks they needed to complete.

“The student had a virtual cyber robot in two different virtual worlds,” Varma said. “One was robogolf, where they had to program their robot to push the golf balls into the holes. They had to measure the angle and the distance. They also had to consider the time it took to complete that.”

The second was Disco Blocks, where the robot had to be programmed to go from point A to point B while crossing tiles that light up. Each tile had a numerical value, such as 10, -2 and others. The top score wins.

“They had to learn not just coding but things like integers, dividing by a negative number, knowing that multiplying two negative numbers results in a positive number.”

One of the teams coached by teacher Cindy Tirloki took third place.

Verma said while they are for now a K-6 school, some of the math material is not taught until seventh grade.

He said a large part of their success was the full support of Principal Andrew Winter and Shaunte Robinson, director of support services.

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