Robotics team honored for outreach
The New Hartford RoboSpartans are climbing to the upper levels of robotics competition, but what's really catching the judges' eyes isn't the awards they're winning, but the doors they're opening for other young tech lovers. Sarah Blazonis reports.
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NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. -- Meet the RoboSpartans. This is the robotics team's last practice before heading off to the Pennsylvania FIRST Tech Challenge, or FTC, Championship. It's their shot to gain an invite to the World Championship in St. Louis, MO, and they said theirs will be one of the robots to beat.
"A lot of other teams that we've run into and been alliance partners with, they usually only do one thing, which is either bowling ball or lift crates up. We can do everything," said Alex Catera, 13, the group's newest member and a student at Perry Junior High.
The robot built by the team has beaten out competitors from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio to get to this level of competition. Members said it took about three months to complete.
"We start off with a frame, a mainframe, and then we kind of build off of that. And each time we hit a problem, we come up with a solution to that problem," said 14-year-old Maysara Elazzazi, also a student at Perry Junior High.
But the RoboSpartans aren't just being recognized for their successes on the competition field. They're also gaining attention for the work they've done in the community, more than 1,000 hours worth.
The team received the Inspire Award, their league's highest honor, as well as a Congressional Proclamation from Congressman Richard Hanna for their work mentoring younger students. They use a demo robot to teach kids the basics of building and programming.
"They're always excited to drive it," said Elazzazi. "They keep coming back to drive it, and it's really fun for them."
An added bonus: the potential for future competition. The RoboSpartans are the only FTC team in a 50 mile radius of New Hartford, and they'd like to inspire the creation of new teams and possibly hold local competitions.
In the meantime, they plan to continue on the road to victory, one win at a time.
For more information about the team, visit the New Hartford RoboSpartans website.
The FIRST Tech competition is a partner with Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds initiative, which encourages kids to explore careers in STEM fields. For more information, visit connectamillionminds.com.