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    Students with medals at state competition
    Nicola Davies

    Middlebrook Team compete at State Final and wins prestigious award.

    students pose with their medals

    A combined Middlebrook and Cider Mill Team has brought home the Renatra Fusco Creativity Award at the Odyssey of the Mind State Championship held on March 16 at the Southern CT State University. The Renatra Fusco award is given to the team that demonstrates outstanding creativity in the competition. This is the first time a Wilton team has ever won this most coveted prize.

    Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential

    This award means that the team has qualified for the Odyssey of the Mind World Championships to be held in May at the Michigan State University.

    We are very excited for and proud of these kids who’ve worked so very hard these last 5 months

    The Wilton team includesTrisha Prabhu and Preeti Vijay, 5th graders from Cider Mill and Afroz Ali, Kaamil Badami, Nandan Raman, Nathan Raman and Samar Rokkam, all of who are 6th Graders at MB.


    Student poses in front of science fair board with her trophies
    Nicola Davies

    Middlebrook students receive recognition at state competition.


    Student holding trophies

    Congratulations to the Middlebrook students who participated in the 2019 Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair over the weekend. Several took home prizes and recognition.

    Keerthi Vijay (pictured above), whose project, “Alternative Household Method to Extinguish Fires,” won two first place awards as well as an invitation to move on and compete in the 2019 Broadcom MASTERS competition this summer. Her recognition included:

    • First Place, Lockheed Martin Physical Sciences: Grade 8, $300, Invitation to compete in Broadcom MASTERS
    • First Place, Alexion Biotechnology: Grade 8, $500, Invitation to compete in Broadcom MASTERS
    • Connecticut Science Teachers Association’s Marty Tafel Award, $500 and Invitation to CSTA Award Banquet
    • Special Award: American Society of Safety Professionals, CT Valley Chapter, $100
    • Special Award: Connecticut Science Supervisors Association, $125
    • Special Award: Jon Stone Memorial Award – Innovative Engineering, $100
    Also recognized :

    Gayathri Kaimal, Fighting Wildfires with Data from Satellite Remote Sensors

    • Finalist, Lockheed Martin Physical Sciences: Grade 8
    • Special Award: American Meteorological Society, $25 gift card
    • Connecticut Science Supervisors Association – $125 for a middle school project

    Varun Vadhera, Medibox

    • Third Place, Collins Aerospace Awards – Middle School, $100
    • Finalist: Computer Science Awards – Middle School
    Varun and his team in FTC with their robot
    Nicola Davies

    Eighth grader Varun is part of the team heading to Detroit next month.

    Team of students with their robot and the champion banner



    Middlebrook eighth grader Varun (pictured second to the right of the banner) is part of a robotics team that is heading to Detroit in April to participate in the National Championships of the First Tech Challenge. His team “The League of Extraordinary Roboticists” has students 8th to 12th grade from schools in the greater Danbury area. Varun is one of only three middle schoolers on the team of ten.

    The team has been meeting since September to envision their robot and how it will operate. This year’s competition called ‘Rover Ruckus’, is inspired by the Lunar Rover and the Mars Rover space programs. Each team had to build a robot that would ‘land’ on a far off planet, detach from a larger space vehicle, collect specimens and place them in a collecting vessel.  

    The team participated at the state competition, held in Greenwich on February 24th. Varun’s team did exceptionally well and won their division. They also won the inspire award, the award that was given once across all divisions to the team that demonstrates the values of the competition - teamwork, enthusiasm, knowledge and professionalism.

    The team was guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.

    Varun discovered robotics when he received an ev3 kit for his 9th birthday and he has never looked back. After participating in the First Lego League in previous years, he wanted to take it up a notch and join a First Technical Challenge Team. His first challenge was to find a team. The Wilton Library Team did not have a spot for him, but he did not give up. He looked further afield and found a team in Danbury with space for him to join.

    ‘The design process was the hardest part’ said Varun ‘It took the longest time we used CAD software to figure it out’ After design it took a further 20 hours to build the robot ‘The next problem we faced was how to detach from the landing vehicle, we discovered there were flaws in our idea and we had to go back to the design process’. Varun and his team mates also had to figure out the programming language Java in order to control the movement of the robot. No small task as, by Varun’s own admission ‘Java is a big program to learn’

    As well as all the technical aspects, there is also a business side to the program as the students have to learn to present their ideas to companies to solicit sponsorship dollars to support the team and their upcoming trip to Detroit.

    Varun and the team will be exhibiting at the New England Space Expo on April 7th. Details of that event can be found here.


    Math Counts Team
    Nicola Davies

    The Connecticut state final was held on Saturday March 9th. 


    Math Counts Team

    Four members of the Middlebrook Math Counts Club competed in the 2019 State Competition at the University of Hartford on March 9.  The following students participated in the competition: Connie Gao (8G), Gayathri Kaimal (8Y), Lukas Koutsoukos (8Y), and Sean Ming (8G).  We had a good day of competition and were enlightened about some of the mathematical theories that currently explain our universe by a professor of physics from Wesleyan University.   

    In the team competition, Middlebrook earned the tenth spot for our second year in a row. In the individual competition, Sean earned the top spot from Middlebrook and placed eleventh in the state. 

    The top sixteen competitors faced off in a single-elimination tournament in front of a crowd of several hundred people. Sean was victorious in the first round, but fell short in the “elite eight” round.  The coaches (Mrs. Julianne Walsh and Mr. Stephen Doré) would like to thank all the members of the Math Counts Club for their efforts over the course of the school year. We will continue to hold meetings up until April 10th.

    The competition is organized by the Connecticut Society of Professional Engineers, hosted by the University of Hartford and sponsored by businesses, organizations and individuals throughout Connecticut. In our increasingly technological society, those students who do not begin developing strong problem-solving, logical thinking and analytical abilities in middle school will face an uphill battle later in life if they wish to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. As the only nationwide math enrichment, club and competition program designed to improve math skills for U.S. middle school students, MATHCOUNTS prepares students for future career opportunities and success. More than 6 million students across the U.S. have participated in MATHCOUNTS programs. Further information can be found on the MATHCOUNTS website.


    Science Fair students pose with their certificates
    Nicola Davies

    Over 140 students entered this year's Science Fair at Middlebrook School

    Seven photographs depicting students at the science fair

     The Middlebrook gym was a hive of activity on Tuesday evening as over 140 students presented their science fair projects to a roving audience of students, parents, teachers and judges. Divided between 6th grade and 7th & 8th Grade, students projects covered life sciences, physical sciences and engineering. Climate change and the environment featured very prominently in many projects as our socially minded students were clearly working on solutions to real life problems. From solar powered cars, heaters and ovens, the effects of acid rain and how to dispose of styrofoam in an environmentally friendlier way. There were projects based on the greenhouse effect, how to melt snow without affecting the environment and how to fight wildfires using satellite data.  There were old favorites - mentos & soda and new additions - does playing Fortnite raise your blood pressure?

    The enthusiasm of the students was clear to see as they clearly articulated the purpose of their projects even when discussed pitfalls, setbacks and dealing with the rigors of the scientific method.

    6th Grader Lauren  was very excited to present her egg drop experiment. ‘I’ve been waiting since Miller-Driscoll to take part in another science fair’ she said ‘I have always found it fun to figure out how things work, I had to do this experiment a bunch of times and needed a lot of patience’

    Also in 6th grade Anna demonstrated her Freezer Free Feeder, her inspiration sprang from a wish to help her Grandpa who loves to feed the birds in his backyard, but is no longer able to go out in the snow to refill his bird feeder. Her ingenious engineering design ensures that the feeder can be topped up from a second floor window with no need to brave the outdoors.

    Many of the projects were a team effort. MacKenzie & Kendra worked together on a project and enjoyed the opportunity to do practical science ‘6th Grade science can be a lot of textbook and memorization’ they lamented.

    First, second and third places were awarded in each of the three science categories - engineering, life science and physical science full results are posted below. An overall best fair prize was also awarded to 8th Grader Gayathri Kaimal for her work on the early detection of wildfires based on remote sensor data from satellites measuring the amount of moisture in the soil.

    The Middlebrook science fair is a collaboration between the Middlebrook PTA and the  Wilton Education Foundation. It is made possible by the dedication of the co-chairs, the judges and the teachers and students of Middlebrook school.

    7 & 8th Grade Winning Entries

    1st place Engineering - Varun Vadhera
    1st place Life Sciences -  Jeanette Rosenthal
    1st place Physical Sciences - Gayathri Kaimal *

    2nd Place Engineering - Sebastian Shaw
    2nd place Life sciences - Alexandra Cole
    2nd place physical sciences - Keerthi Vijay

    3rd place engineering - Dillon Bhutani
    3rd place life sciences - Akhil Vallabhajosula
    3rd place Physical sciences - Harish Subramanian

    6th Grade Winning Entries

    1st place Engineering - Varish Duriseti
    1st place Life Sciences -  Austin Etzbach
    1st place Physical Sciences - Sahana Bhagavatula

    2nd Place Engineering - Abby Phelan & Sarah Morris
    2nd place Life sciences - Nathan & Nandan Raman
    2nd place physical sciences - Matthew Barymow

    3rd place engineering - Olivia Feldman
    3rd place life sciences - Shyla Bathla
    3rd place Physical sciences - Julia Nanos & Sophia Viggiano

    *Gayathri was also awarded best in fair.

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