News Article - 6 minute read

Sigma Mu Mu Chapter Helps Leesburg Elementary STEM Team Succeed in VEX Robotics Competition

On April 13, 2024, Sigma Mu Mu Chapter, Third District of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.,
coached ten Leesburg Elementary School students in the Academies of Loudoun VEX Robotics
Competition as part of the chapter’s new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
initiative. In the VEX Robotics Competition, teams of students are tasked with designing,
building, and programming robots to play against other teams in a game-based engineering
challenge that involves overcoming obstacles and solving problems. Tournaments for different
grade levels are held at the local, regional, state, and national levels, and culminate at the VEX
Robotics Word Championship each April.
The Academies of Loudoun competition was held in Leesburg, Virginia among 70 teams from
16 Loudoun County elementary and middle schools; the Sigma Mu Mu-coached Leesburg
Elementary team placed a respectable 5 th out of the 70 teams in this exciting and fun local event.
This year, in addition to working with the students from Leesburg Elementary, the volunteers
from the Sigma Mu Mu chapter arrived early that Saturday morning to help set-up the
competition area, build the playing fields, and served breakfast and lunch to over 300 students. In
recognition for the help the Chapter provided, we received the following message from Ms.
Tamara Morgan, The Propel/Level Up Program Coordinator:
To the Brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Sigma Mu Mu Chapter,
I hope this message finds you well and that you have been able to recover from Saturday.
On behalf of PROPEL & Level Up, I wanted to extend our sincerest gratitude for your
fraternity's incredible support during Innovation Day and with the PROPEL students of
Leesburg Elementary. Your dedication and hard work truly have made a significant
impact on the success of the students and Innovation Day.
From the moment you walked through the door to volunteer to set up, to your enthusiastic
support throughout serving breakfast and throughout the day, your commitment to
excellence was evident. The smooth execution of the event would not have been possible
without your team's assistance.
The involvement of the fraternity not only facilitated the logistics but also added to the
vibrant atmosphere of collaboration and creativity that PROPEL & level Up aims to
foster. By engaging with students and contributing your energy and expertise, you helped
create an environment where student innovation could thrive.
We deeply appreciate your partnership and the invaluable role your you played in
making PROPEL at Leesburg and Innovation Day a resounding success. Your generosity
and support are a testament to the spirit of community and cooperation that defines the
organization. Thank you once again for your unwavering support. We look forward to
continued collaboration with you in future endeavors.
Warm regards,
Tamara and the PLU Team

Sigma Mu Mu Chapter began working with Leesburg Elementary and the PROPEL (Providing
Rich Opportunities Plus Enrichment Learning) & Level Up programs in early January 2024.
PROPEL and Level Up are STEM after-school programs designed to provide academic support
for high-achieving underrepresented students. Leesburg Elementary has been involved with the
PROPEL & Level Up programs as well as the Vex Robotics Competition for the past three years.
Since early January 2024, Sigma Mu Mu has been working with the Leesburg Elementary
Robotics Team for two hours, twice a week, after school. The chapter’s primary mission was to
coach, guide, and ask thought-provoking questions in an effort to help students create solutions
on their own or within their group. “We were there to help the students come up with potential
solutions and to help them understand why their design was or was not successful. We wanted
them to become comfortable with failure, as we recognized that through failure comes learning,”
explained Bro. Porter. During the early days of the build process, there were many moments of
frustration as several students had to completely scrap and rebuild their robots when they
discovered that some of their earlier designs were not functional. There were times when, as
coaches, we knew that certain designs were not going to work, but we had to let them learn on
their own,
After the robots were built, the Sigma Mu Mu coaches assisted the students with testing them on
the game field; the game's objective was to score points by freeing small pucks from obstacles
and pushing those pucks to specific spots on the playing field to earn points. The students had to
first learn to drive their robots using a game controller. Once they mastered driving, the students
had to program their robots to run autonomously through the course. When maneuvering
through the course, the students quickly realized that some were better at driving, and others
were better at coding their robots. After seven weeks of tireless work, the Leesburg Elementary
team was ready for competition.
Upon arrival, the team was amazed by the size of the school and the number of other VEX
Robotics Competition participants; attendees included more than 300 students, hundreds of
parents, and coaches. After taking time to walk the students around the school, the coaches took
them to a classroom where they ate breakfast and put the finishing touches on their robots. Soon
after, the students were called down to begin competing.
There were three different competition challenges: the team event, the individual driving event,
and the programming event. It was a very competitive event this year. Unfortunately, the
Leesburg Elementary team did not place in the top three this year, but the students all had a great
time. The real victory was the students working together and learning how to solve problems as
a team. Sigma Mu Mu Chapter thanks Brother Shawn Lacey, Principal Leesburg Elementary
and Ms. Tamara Morgan for allowing the chapter to be a part of such an amazing event.