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)
continued With such a large team (about 20 students, parents and volunteers) things can get busy. Gail Howard is the team’s coordinator of the non-engineering mentors and chief liaison between advisors and team members and parents, and mentors.
“When they (parents) find out there are so many ways to help, even making a snack ordinner for a late meeting or carpooling ... everyone and everything is so appreciated. If it wasn't for the volunteering mentors and families, the team just could not run as well. The six-week build time could be more stressful but the help from mentors and volunteers takes the full load off the advisors,” she said. “The team always finds time to have fun and laughs. To see them realize their idea mattered and was appreciated by others and worked is priceless,” shesaid.
Greg Mohr is in his second year of mentoring the team. He was originally trained as an experimental physicist, and now works as a research engineer at Knolls Atomic Lab and supplies a great deal of technical knowledge for the team.
“I try to help the team a bit in many technical areas, including mechanical, electrical and programming, as well as in the problem-solving process. I think all of the students develop an appreciation for the difficulty of designing something that works, but they also see the fun of turning something from their imaginations into an actual physical creation,” he said.
Rewards are many for students and adults who are involved with the team. Mohr sums this up by saying, “I stay involved for the satisfaction of seeingthe ‘ah-ha’ moments — those happen when one of the students really internalizes an important concept, or successfully applies their new critical thinking skills, or invents a truly creative or elegant solution for their robot.”