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Ballston Spa Robotics Team places at regionals

Mechanical malfunctions failed to dissuade team

The Ballston Spa High School FIRST Robotics team’s robot “Oxsanity” placed second at the Finger Lakes FIRST Robotics Regional Competition last month. Students spent about six weeks building the robot. Photo Submitted.

The Ballston Spa High School FIRST Robotics team’s robot “Oxsanity” placed second at the Finger Lakes FIRST Robotics Regional Competition last month. Students spent about six weeks building the robot. Photo Submitted.

— The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team 3044 from Ballston Spa High School participated in the annual Finger Lakes FIRST Robotics Regional Competition at the Rochester Institute of Technology from March 8 through 10, and walked away with a second place finish.

Rebound Rumble was the title of this year’s event, and robots played a variation on basketball. The Ballston Spa team placed 14th out of 41 teams at the end of the qualifying matches and the golden moment came when the team was selected to join two teams in the final match. Team 3044 won second place.

“We are a young team that has really developed… and other teams are recognizing that growth and our strength when we get to competitions,” said team advisor and teacher Greg Roberts.

The robot was named Oxsanity (based on the team’s mascot, an ox) and early in the competition took some damage. The team was able to get it back onto the playing field, though.

“Our teamwork was better than ever this year… We had a catastrophic event but were able to fix itquickly and not miss our next match,” said senior Jeff Carminati.

One highlight of the FIRST program is the way team members learn how to work with each other and with members of other teams. At competitions, teams are encouraged to meet other teams and form alliances.

Sophomore Danny Lehane said, “Having opportunities to meet new people and new teams is a lot of fun.”

Teams are encouraged to support their rivals through a spirit of “coopertition,” a term coined by FIRST to indicate cooperative competition. This was evident as the teams from the Capital Region supported each other. Besides Ballston Spa’s Team 3044, the Capital District was represented by Team 250 from Colonie, Team 3687 from Schenectady,and Team 4203 from Oneonta.

Since building a robot and competing is expensive, most teamsseek funding from businesses in their local communities. Team 3044 received support from Ballston Spa National Bank, Ballston Spa Education Foundation, Ballston Spa Central Schools and other corporate sponsors.

The 2012 FIRST Robotics season is expected to include 2,300 teams competing in 52 regional events, 14 district competitions, a state championship, a region championship and the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, from April 25 through 28. Participants are eligible to receive nearly $14 million in scholarships from some of the finest science and engineering schools in the country.

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