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Friday, 19 September 2014 10:13

Blue Streak Robotics Begins Building ‘Bots

By | News

Saratoga’s Robotics Team Prepares for Competition Season

SARATOGA SPRINGS – For five hours straight every Tuesday night, the boys and girls of Saratoga High School’s Blue Streak Robotics Team are hard at work, designing and building robots for entry into multi-state competitions.  

From conceptualization and design, to prototyping, full-scale assembly and programming, these students do it all.

“We want to expose these kids to robotics and careers in STEM,” said Preston Sweeney, club advisor and technology teacher at Maple Avenue Middle School. “It’s great exposure.”

The team, currently in its second year, is comprised of three teams in itself – two teams of ninth graders and one team of sophomores and juniors.

“I’ve always been interested in engineering, specifically robotics and aerospace,” said Paul Harrington, an 11th grader. “This year, we’d like to get more than one robot built and participate in the competitions more fully and maybe get some more people on board. We’re kind of a small team right now.”

During the competition season, Blue Streak Robotics will play against other teams from around the region in game-based engineering challenges through VEX Robotics, the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics program globally. Roughly 4,800 teams from 20 countries comprise VEX and play in over 300 tournaments worldwide.

Typically, the teams build robots to perform critical tasks in competitions – the more tasks the robot completes in the allotted time, the more points the team can earn, and the highest scoring team is the winner.

“Almost every single part of our robot has been torn apart and re-built like five times so far,” said Amanda Davis, a ninth grader. “The robot has to be able to take cubes and stack them on poles in under two minutes, so we have to make the robot fast and really tall.”

However, conceptualizing and building a robot that performs specific tasks is easier said than done.

“At first, it’s hard but once you think of the idea, it’s actually harder to implement it,” said Harrington. “You can come up with the idea for how you want the robot to move, but the much harder part – the part that takes days and hours of time – is figuring out how to make the robot and motors move to do up and down or side to side motions the way you want it to.”

In just eight weeks, the robots Blue Streak builds will be put to the test at the first competition of the season – The Oswego Nor’easter. The competition will be held at SUNY Oswego on Saturday, Nov. 22.

Blue Streak Robotics will then host the Saratoga Skyrise Challenge, the first VEX competition in the Capital Region, at Maple Avenue Middle School on Saturday, Dec. 13.

“We want to be successful and we want to have fun,” said Sweeney. “I want the kids to enjoy themselves. There is a little bit of pressure, but it’s all about having fun and learning.”

 

Blue Streak Robotics is looking for corporate and individual sponsors to help the team throughout the year. To learn more or become a sponsor, email Preston Sweeney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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