Festo hosts Innovation Night for third graders, showcases new technology

Robots are roaming Mason High School.

Throughout the past six months, Festo, a worldwide supplier of technology, has been working with Mason, Kings, the University of Cincinnati and Sinclair to devise a plan to make an impact in local students’ education. On October 27, as a gift to the city for its bicentennial, Festo showed off its latest robotic works in a night targeted at Mason and Kings third grade students and their families.

In the large commons, a video presentation featured “The Handling Assistant,” a new robotic development shaped like the trunk of an elephant that is designed to pick up and handle different objects. In the field house, kids and their families could walk around and look at several different robots during demonstrations lead by high school organizations. Michele Blair, head of Mason’s Economic and Development team, said the partnership with Festo allowed younger students to extend their learning while older students displayed what they’ve learned.

“(It) was cool to look at the pathways of connecting early education, high school education, and Sinclair,” Blair said. “All having that kind of robotics science teams, the waterbots and all those different types of things, gave an opportunity for students and clubs and the other educational partners to be displaying and learning and doing their thing along with Festo.”

Watch the Bionic Dragonfly in action. Video by Staff Writer Alekya Raghavan.

The night was filled with awe-filled faces as students watched the SmartBird fly for the first time in Ohio. Mason’s mayor David Nichols said he appreciates Festo exposing the youth to technology early on because it gets them to think outside the box.

“One of the things I love about this company and the reasons we wanted them here is they like to invest in youth,” Nichols said. “They know an investment in innovation and getting people to think outside the box, which I’m a firm believer in.”

While third graders may not have understood the science behind what they saw, Nichols said he was more concerned with installing the idea inside their heads that they can do something.

“I’m not worried if they understand it as much as their awe factor that they took into them because if you believe you can do something it’s half the battle,” Nichols said. “We don’t know if they’re going to be doctors, astronauts, maybe cure cancer, but if they think they can do it we’re halfway over the battle to stimulate that so where they sit there and say ‘I can do it! I can do it!’”

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Photos by Alekya Raghavan

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A Blast from the Past

Break out that pack of Dunkaroos, and treat yourself to a cold jug of Little Hugs, because the 90s are back.

Teen Nick has been broadcasting popular 90s/early 2000s cartoons and television shows including Rugrats, Drake and Josh, etc. but have only broadcasted them late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. That’s about to change. In September, Nickelodeon announced they will be potentially be releasing a channel dedicated to popular 90s cartoons, which means innocent humor and nostalgia all wrapped up into one network.

Sure, I was born in late September of 2000, so I don’t exactly hold the coveted title of “90s kid,” but I’m pretty excited for this new channel. With an older sister, I’ve seen my fair share of All That, Hey Arnold, and Rugrats.

There’s just something about watching old shows that can brighten anyone’s day. Singing the theme song off key, reciting the characters’ lines because you know them better than you know your locker combination, questioning the fashion trends that you thought were adorable when you were in 2nd grade. It’s addicting.

Russell Hicks, the president of content and development at Nickelodeon, said Nickelodeon is interested in reviving old favorites and bringing them to the television.

“We are looking at our library to bring back ideas, shows that were loved, in a fresh new way,” Hicks said.

The beloved shows that Hicks mentioned are rumored to include Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, Kenan & Kel, Rocko’s Modern Life, and You Can’t Do That on Television. Nickelodeon plans on calling this new channel “The Splat,” and has created a website (thesplat.com) that informs viewers of times when their childhood favorites will be on TV. It looks as if Nickelodeon is serious with their decision to bring back 90s favorites, and they debuted The Splat at last month’s 90s fest in Brooklyn.

Enjoyment aside, I learned a lot from watching these shows. My life lessons included: girls are just as tough as guys (Powerpuff girls), dogs are SOOO much better than cats (Catdog), friends are family (Rugrats), the sight of red sticks and fire means I need to run.

Be sure to tune in, and head outside for a walk down memory lane.

Comet volleyball bests McCauley in straight set win on senior night

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Photo by: Blake Nissen

Senior year is filled with many firsts and lasts. For seven Comets, the game versus McCauley was their last time playing volleyball on their home court with “Mason” on their backs.

On October 12, players and coaches recognized seven seniors and thanked them for their dedication to Mason volleyball. These seniors then captained the team to a straight set win over McCauley, 25-20, 25-13 and 25-15.

According to head coach Tiann Myer, the program will miss the seniors’ positive attitudes and strong friendships.

“I think one of the things we’ll miss from them is the fact that there’s absolutely no arguing,” Myer said. “It’s truly a bunch of girls that care about each other, and that’ll be something that we’ll miss.”

After every tear had been shed, the Comets took to the court with the intention of adding another “W” to their 16-4 record. In the opening set, Mason took an early lead with the efforts of their all-senior lineup. A kill by Ellie Bruns and block by Leah Heffelfinger forced McCauley to take an early timeout, Comets up 10-4. McCauley proved to be a tough opponent after scoring six consecutive points, but Mason began to pull away after a block by Heffelfinger and sophomore Anna Brinkmann. An error by McCauley allowed Mason to claim its first set 25-20.

Myer said the effort by her seniors was a good one and that she enjoyed watching them on the court together.

“I think our seniors came out very ready tonight,” Myer said. “They came out very very up on their game, and they played amazing. So, it was great seeing them all get to play, and it was just super fun to watch them.”

The Comets opened the second set with an ace by senior Emily Malsch, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Despite a few errors, the girls maintained their lead throughout the set and won 25-13. Again, the Comets took an early 9-2 lead in the third set. After a dropped ball and consecutive scores by McCauley, the gap was lessened to 14-12, but McCauley was unable to hold onto the momentum and made costly errors. Mason took advantage of the opportunity with three consecutive kills by freshman Maggie King. McCauley handed Mason the victory after making two errors, allowing the Comets to win the third and final set 25-15.

Myer said her team played well and remained aggressive throughout the match.

“Overall, the entire team play great,” Myer said. “A little up and down, but we’ve kind of been like that all season, but they really went after it.”

Last night was the team’s last match at home, but there is still post-season to be played. Now aware of their matchups, Myer said it will be imperative that they focus and prepare for their final opponent in regular season, Oak Hills, and their first opponent in post-season, Withrow.

“We’re going to have to be very focused and ready for it,” Myer said. “We just have to go in and take each day one at a time, practice, and focus on our next opponent.”

Young Women’s Club sells bracelets to share Love for Liz, MHS alum battling cancer

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Photo from the Love for Liz GoFundMe page.

Once a Comet always a Comet.

The Young Women’s Club is honoring Mason alum Liz Lothrop by selling bracelets to raise money for the Love for Liz GoFundMe campaign. Lothrop was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2008. She fought a hard battle with the disease and reached remission in 2011.

Before she was diagnosed with Leukemia, Lothrop babysat sophomore Delaney Turner. According to Turner, news of Lothrop’s diagnosis with a new cancer early this year shocked those close to her.

“She was in remission, then this summer she was diagnosed with stage-four Glioblastoma Multiforme,” Turner said. “My mom told me that in the car, and I was just in tears.”

Lothrop continues to study at Duke University throughout treatment. Turner said she often receives news of Lothrop’s condition and the status fight with her brain tumor.

“She’s an incredible fighter,” Turner said. “She already beat cancer once, and it’s so hard for her to have this again while she’s in college, but I see videos of her, (and) I hear about her through my mom.”

Tina Roberts, advisor of Young Women’s Club, said Love for Liz bracelets will continue to be sold in the upcoming weeks and can be bought during lunch and at some football games.

“The student body now doesn’t know her because she graduated a few years ago,” Roberts said. “I hoping that once they get to know her, we can start doing some sales at lunch time; maybe some future football games again if they have some special events going on.”

According to Turner, the support of friends and family throughout Lothrop’s battle has kept her spirits high.

“I saw this video of her the day after she had surgery, and her boyfriend came to surprise her and her face lit up,” Turner said. “The support of all her friends and family members really brings joy to her, and she’s such a fun-loving, caring person.”

While Lothrop still has lengths to go in her battle with the tumor, Turner said she recently received good news regarding the growth of the cancer.

“I knew that she was going to get through this,” Turner said. “I just heard news a few weeks ago that all the cancer cells are dying or (are) already dead.”

Sophomore Natasha Saputra performs piano at Carnegie Hall for the sixth time

Photo: American ProtŽgŽ Winners Recital; recital photographed: Friday, July 3, 2015; 7:00 PM at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine. PHOTO CREDIT - Richard Termine

Photo from masonohioschools.com.

Sophomore Natasha Saputra is a Mozart-in-the-making.

Saputra stepped foot on the renowned stage of Carnegie Hall this July for her sixth appearance in her lifetime. Saputra has remained dedicated to the piano for 10 years and currently takes lessons at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (UC CCM) Prep.

Saputra was in the fourth grade when she made her debut appearance at Carnegie Hall and has continued to improve in the art form, racking up five more appearances along the way. From the array of seats an audience may only hear a string of chords, but Saputra said she aims to tell a story in every piece, providing them with personal connections.

“When I play the piano, I also have a story in my head,” Saputra said. “I like to tell a story when I play each piece so that I can kind of connect to the audience while also connecting to myself and the music.”

Saputra has excelled on the keys, but she continues to push herself outside of the classic instrument. On Fridays, she can be found marching on the field alongside her fellow band members. Saputra said she manages the two demanding extracurriculars by constantly exercising her brain and her fingers.

“When I get home if I still have a lot of homework, I would do one class, and then I take little eight minute breaks,” Saputra said. “Even though it’s little eight minute bits that I’ve been practicing one section at a time, it really helps me in the long run.”

The pressure of performing well at Carnegie Hall is enough to make anyone’s palms sweat, but Saputra said she focuses on improving herself and not the hype of making it to NYC.

“I don’t really feel the pressure because I actually enjoy playing the piano,” Saputra said. “I want to get better for myself, so even though I do enjoy playing there, I want to keep pushing myself so that I can keep on getting better.”