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Robotics Team Shows Off Hardware

Herndon High School Robotics demonstrate at Udvar-Hazy Center.

Megan Labery, a senior on the Herndon High School Robotics team, demonstrates the team’s latest robot t
the Udvar-Hazy Center Saturday, Oct. 27.

Megan Labery, a senior on the Herndon High School Robotics team, demonstrates the team’s latest robot t the Udvar-Hazy Center Saturday, Oct. 27. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— The Herndon High School Robotics Team showed off its hardware at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center Saturday, Oct. 27, as part of the center’s Air and Scare event. While thousands of children flocked to trick or treat among the aircraft at the center, Herndon High students offered a chance for visitors to try out a few robots.

“This is a great chance to reach out to people who have a natural interest in science and technology, and show them what applications are out there,” said Abigail Ackerman, a senior on the team. “We have team members that can remember seeing this display when they were younger and looked forward to joining the team.”

Visitors could take a break from trick or treating to grab one of four remote controls to steer some of the

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Visitors to the Udvar-Hazy Center experiment with robots built by the Herndon High School Robotics team Saturday, Oct. 27.

“square robots,” smaller pieces that are about the size of a remote control car. But for some, these robots were even better.

“I feel like I’m driving something that I could learn how to build myself, which is much more fun than a regular remote control car,” said Taylor Waits, 6, of Sterling. “These look like they’d hold up better in a crash too.”

As the mother of student at Herndon Middle School, Maria Hill of Herndon said the display got her son very excited about the team.

“He’s always been into things like space and technology, which is why we came here in the first place, and I think he had a lot of fun realizing that these students, who are a few years older than him, built these robots from scratch,” she said. “I have a feeling we’ll be making some inquiries when he gets back to school about joining.”

Also on display was the robot from the 2012 competition, into a hoop. As a member of FIRST, For inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, the team competes locally, regionally and nationally in robotics competitions. They also mentor a team at Herndon Middle School.

Herndon’s team is one of the most accomplished in the country, making several innovations that have since become part of the standards of competition.

“I think they get more out of it than some college classes can offer,” said Winston Weiser, a parent whose children have been on the team. “The degree of focused attention on creating something, hardware, programming and other technology, I think some of these kids learn enough to be hired by a tech company right out of high school.”

Herndon Robotics alumni have gone onto internships with NASA, Pixar and more. Their season will kick off with a live-streaming event in January, where inventor Dean Kaman, founder of FIRST, will reveal this season’s challenge.