"When we found out the game I was sitting with a group that was like 95 percent soccer team. we were all like, 'Yeah, we can do this!'" said Runyon. "I was talking to my friend about how familiar it'll be this year and how we can take life experiences. Not just kicking the ball but pressure, the effort you have to put into kicking in different directions; we understand all that and can incorporate it into the robot we're building."
Barra said she loves giving students this type of opportunity to push their limits and see their ideas and efforts incorporated into a project that is something bigger. She's been helping out for five years.
"I think it's that thrill of competition that just brings out the best in them," said Barra. "It's so different from a classroom experience. Kids can learn skills they can carry with them for a lifetime. I love how excited they get."
This competitive edge is part of what Angeliu enjoys most about being on the robotics team but didn't know this would be the case when he decided to join.
"I mostly joined because I had friends who did it and once I got into it I really liked it," said Angeliu. "It's interesting to see what we can achieve in six weeks. I enjoy the challenge of building a sophisticated piece of machinery in that time span. The competition is very exciting with a lot of people cheering and enthusiasm. It's both fun and educational."
Runyon joined to feed her social butterfly persona but ended up finding something that has given her much more than an increased circle of friends.
"I'm a social person so this really fits in for me. There's so many different types of people that join robotics club, it's not just nerds and geeks, there are actually popular people on there too. Everyone's really intelligent and its awe-inspiring all the different things people can do that you don't even realize," said Runyon. "I also had never really been out of the state or the general area before but now I've been able to travel all over for competitions."
The team must have its robot perfected and submitted by Feb. 23. After that it will participate in several competitions throughout the season, which officially starts in March and culminates in mid-April with a national competition in Atlanta. There are about 72 students on the robotics team in grades nine to 12.
For more on this story, pick up a copy of the Jan. 13 print version of the Saratoga Spotlight.