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BALLSTON SPA — The Ballston Spa High School’s FIRST Robotics team earned an invitation to the 2019 FIRST Championship event in Detroit at the end of April at both the NY Tech Valley FIRST Robotics Regional Competition at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the CNY FIRST Robotics Regional Competition at SUNY Poly in Utica.

At the NY Tech Valley Regional, the team made it to the quarterfinals and earned the Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award at FIRST, which honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. 

At the CNY Regional, the Ballston Spa High School’s FIRST Robotics team made it to the semi-finals and earned both the Safety Award and the Engineering Inspiration Award.  This Engineering Inspiration award reflects the work that the team does in inspiring younger students through efforts like mentoring FLL and FTC teams, promoting participation in the Elementary Science & Engineering Fair, and teaching elementary students how to do computer coding, among other activities.  The Engineering Inspiration Award comes with a donation from NASA that will pay for the team’s registration fee for the 2019 FIRST Championship.

FIRST Robotics Competitions combine the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand”, hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. The 2019 robotics challenge Destination Deep Space has an outer space theme and involves two alliances of three teams each competing to place hatch covers and rubber balls or “cargo” on rockets and cargo ships before returning to their platform to climb at the end of the match.

The Ballston Spa High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 3044 will be hosting a Pizza/Mac ’n Cheese Night and Silent Auction on April 3, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the high school cafeteria to help raise funds for their trip to the 2019 FIRST Championship event in Detroit.  Additional information about the event can be found on the events calendar at www.bscsd.org.

The district’s Robotics initiative is possible based on the support from the Ballston Spa National Bank to fund $6,000 towards the team’s participation in the annual US FIRST Robotics competition. Additional sponsors for the 2018 - 2019 season include GLOBALFOUNDRIES/Town of Malta Community Foundation, Malta Business & Professional Association, Technical Building Services, CSArch, Ballston Spa Education Foundation, Union Fire Company and TCT Federal Credit Union.

The High School Robotics Team 3044 website is: frcteam3044.team or visit the FIRST Robotics website directly at www.firstinspires.org for additional details.

Published in Sports

SARATOGA COUNTY – Two local robotics teams stole the show at a recent regional competition, paving the way for their trips to the national level in April.

Robotics club teams from the Ballston Spa and Schuylerville school districts competed at the NY Tech Valley FIRST Robotics competition, a regional division of the FIRST Robotics Competition, an international youth event designed to give student practical engineering experience.  Each school put in strong work at the competition, which ran from March 16-18 at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with Ballston Spa receiving the prestigious Chairman’s Award, and Schuylerville finishing in second place and putting up the highest score of the weekend during the quarterfinals, 450 points.  Both teams will be competing at the national championships in St. Louis, MO, which will run from April 26-29.

At the regional competition, teams were challenged to design and build robots that could receive and place gears, fire wiffle balls, and climb five feet.  Each challenge would net the teams a certain amount of points, and it was up to the teams which actions they designed their machines to specialize in.  Ballston Spa chose to design a robot that could do all three actions, with club advisor and coach Darrel Ackroyd being particularly proud of the machines ability to place gears by itself.

We can receive gears from the human player station and place the gear on the peg via an active placement of the gear,” Ackroyd said.  “Most teams have a passive gear system where the pilot has to pull the gear out of the robot.”

Schuylerville, on the other hands, chose to focus on gear-placing and climbing, as they determined that shooting wiffle balls would be too difficult to design for, and would not yield as many point as the other challenges.

Every team competing in the FIRST Robotics competition was informed of the challenges they would face in January, and then had six weeks to design and build the robot they would take to the competition.  After that, their machine had to be submitted, or “bagged and tagged,” so that they could not utilize it again before the competition weekend.  Both teams, however, built practice robots at the same time as their competition robots, so that they could continue practicing after the six week time limit. 

“Our robot performed incredibly and we won quarterfinals,” Ackroyd said about his team’s performance.  “We came up short in semi finals, but our alliance with Cambridge and Troy was a great one to be apart of in eliminations.”

“I couldn’t have ask for anymore,” said Mark Belden, advisor and coach for the Schuylerville team.  “We’re not a big team, but we went right out there.  Our team, our mentors, our alliance partners… it went as well as I could’ve expected.”

This will be Ballston Spa’s third time competing at the national level, and their second time in a row, having made it to the finals at RIT last year.  This will also be Schuylerville’s second year in a row competing at nationals.  Neither team has won at that level, but they are hopeful heading into the event. 

We are making changes to our climber and gear mechanism for our competition this weekend at Rockland County,” Ackroyd said.  “I feel with these changes we should be a top-performing robot at the competition”

“We’re feeling really good,” Belden said.  “Some other teams we competed against have already gotten in touch with us with suggestions.”

Schuylerville is currently raising money to help fund their trip to St. Louis.  Belden estimates that it will cost around $20,000 to transport the team.  They will be hosting a spaghetti dinner and raffle to help raise funds on March 31 in the elementary school cafeteria, from 5-8 p.m.  Donations can also be made directly at www.gofundme.com/schuylerville-robotics-team-4508.

Published in Education

WILTON – After touring the Healthy Living Market in Wilton Mall, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced new legislation that would expand markets for farmers and increase the availability of nutritious locally-grown food for consumers. The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act would help New York farmers by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs while helping consumers access and afford fresh, nutritious food. 

Published in News