LESP Flying Dragons Fly High

LESP Robotics Team

by Ms. Paula Chen

Lower East Side Preparatory High School’s computer robotics team– The Flying Dragons–won the 2015-2016 FIRST Tech (FIRST® RES-QSM) Challenge New York City/Long Island Regional Championship. At the Championship, which was held on February 28, 2016, thirty-seven teams from New York City and Long Island public and private high schools competed for awards and the chance to advance to the next level of competition. As a result of their win, the Flying Dragons will be one of nine teams to advance to the Eastern Super-Regional Championship at The University of Scranton. The winners of the Super-Regional Championship will advance to the World Championship.

The team is coached by Dr. Henry Ruan, a veteran Native Language Arts teacher and technology instructor at Lower East Side Prep, a transfer high school located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The school’s computer robotics team is made up entirely of ELL students from China, the Caribbean and Latin America, many of whom have little prior experience with computerized robotics. Both Mr. Ruan and his team members spent countless hours after school and on weekends to complete work on their robots. During the competition, some students even napped on the floor because they were just so tired.

Team members shed tears of joy and relief after the award ceremony.  “We cry because we won, because we made a lot of effort, because we know it is not easy to win. All our hard work paid off! This team is phenomenal. To compete with schools such as Stuyvesant and Dalton, you must really focus and think like scientists and engineers. I am very proud of them. They bring me the greatest satisfaction of my teaching career,” exclaimed Dr. Ruan. The whole Lower East Side Prep community–teachers, students and families–is extremely proud of the Flying Dragons’ achievement, too.