Los Stemateros, a Boyle Heights robotics team, heads to world championship

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In a former auto shop turned engineering lab, students at the STEM Academy of Boyle Heights prepared for the first robotics Los Angeles regional competition.

The team, who calls themselves Los Stemateros, was up against 53 schools from across Southern California and even one from Turkey.

"It's really a play on words and it's significant in our neighborhood because we have eloteros, paleteros, who are really doers of something. In our case, stemateros means that we are 'doers of STEM,'" teacher Leo Magallon said.

Their team name may have seemed as unfamiliar to competitors as where they come from, but their skill and excellence made everyone take notice. They won first place and a ticket to the world championship.

"There's teams from more wealthier places like Beverly Hills and teams from Arizona and Turkey. They come here just to get that little blue banner or medal. We're here from Boyle Heights and half of the time people don't know where that is," student Jesus Cespedes said.

It was a dream come true for the students, their parents and their teachers. Some of them were born and raised in Boyle Heights.

"After I went to college, I came back to our neighborhood to open up a school with a STEM focus," one teacher said.

They thank the sponsors who've helped fund the program and are now raising money to send at least some of their teammates to the next competition.

"The results of this weekend's competition is just a testament of the real talent that we have out here on the east side and it's just a small sign of greater and bigger things that are to come," Magallon said.
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