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Ballston Spa robotics team preps high schoolers for science and technology futures

Team 3044’s robot is a fine tuned machine, and so is theBallston Spa robotics team that built it. They’ll be heading to the FingerLakes FIRST Robotics Regional Competition at Rochester Institute of Technologyto put their robot through its paces with other high school teams. (Photo submitted)

Team 3044’s robot is a fine tuned machine, and so is theBallston Spa robotics team that built it. They’ll be heading to the FingerLakes FIRST Robotics Regional Competition at Rochester Institute of Technologyto put their robot through its paces with other high school teams. (Photo submitted)

— Part of the competition involves the team being able to build alliances with two other teams, and their robot will have to perform many two-part maneuvers.

“First, it will have to pick up basketballs off the floor and put them through two hoops, then drive over and suck up the balls in the tube. Secondly, it will have to turn a corner and be able to balance on a bridge. One point is given for the robot, two for balancing on the bridge for a total of three points (in a match),” said Roberts.

Dennis Mooney, a sophomore, reported that the robot they’ve built can move approximately 13 feet per second, and there are 10 or 12 sensors on the robot. Mooney’s skills in programming and wiring the robot have inspired him greatly and will likely play a part in his future.

“I plan on going to RIT for electrical engineering. As far as a specific career, I’m not quite sure, but maybe in programming or IT,” he said.

Torrey has been involved with the team for the past year. Her son Jake was on the team as a senior last year, and helps out when he visits home from Cornell, where he is studying engineering and technology.

“There’s a holistic element to it all. The kids learn a business plan, about funding and so much more. … I’ve seen a lot of growth in the kids, especially the ones who are now juniors. They’re all required to speak to people and that really builds self esteem and interpersonal skills,” said Torrey.

Deb Carminati serves as the team co-advisor. She said she enjoys working with the kids and is readily accessible for them since she also works as a secretary at the school. She says the robot is not necessarily the main focus. Just being on the team teaches the kids a lot, she said, like how to ber espectful of others. One of the core values in FIRST is “gracious professionalism.” That value also goes with their mantra, which is that you can do anything in life.

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