When people think of robotics, they think of math, science, and computers, not art. Palo Alto High School’s robotics team, however, breaks this stereotype, having an art team that has been working hard throughout the year, designing graphics, winning the Underground Society of Animator’s competition in April and hosting animation classes for students.
To some students, it may come as a surprise to learn that the robotics team has an art division.
“The Team 8 [Paly] Robotics Team has the traditional teams you would think of when working on a robot: like programming and building,” art team member and junior Peter Turnbull said. “However, we also have the art team.”
This year, especially, the art team’s importance and responsibilities has grown within Team 8.
“I expanded the animation team to a whole art division,” senior and art team captain Griffin Bajor said. “The graphic design team creates things like posters, shirts, and flags to make us [the robotics team] look as professional as possible; the sketching and storytelling team brainstorms the ideas, and creates the storyboards for the animators to use; [and] the animation team creates full 3D animation to model.”
In addition to animating and designing, members of the art team also have the chance to hone a wide range of skills.
“Our role as the art team is to attract creative individuals across Paly and give them a place to use their skills to add to robotics, or too learn new completely skills,” Turnbull said. “These artists become exposed to the engineering minds [and] a very real-world work environment for an amazing experience for everyone. Students can range from having no experience at all to being masters of their craft.”
This season, the team worked on an entry for the Underground Society Animator’s competition.
“The USA Competition was our focus from January to April,” Turnbull said. “The idea is that all the teams competing receive the same narrative prompt, and they have to accomplish it in a short animation. We were challenged to somehow, ‘Tell the story of an insect that somehow causes the robot uprising’, in 1 minute.”
For their entry, the team created an animation about an ant that was training for a marathon, according to Turnbull.
“We won the Technical Award, which is first place, and a $1000 prize, ” Turnbull said. “It was a very bumpy road, filled with procrastination and cutting scenes that we didn’t expect to, but I am incredibly proud of the work that everyone on the team put in, and I’m so happy to be a part of this team. Winning feels pretty good.”
Moving forward, the entire robotics team is transitioning into new leadership roles, while the animation team will also be teaching animation classes.
“We are in the process of training members and working on our recruitment and intake process for next year,” Turnbull said. “Art team specifically, we are teaching two mini-classes for animation. The Intro class [started last week with] robotics members, [and] some from outside the robotics team, and the Advanced Animation class starts after the Intro class ends.
The team is looking forward to next year and using the experience it has gained this year to improve.
“We learned so much from this latest animation, ” Bajor said. “I can’t wait to see for next year’s competition. We made something that was great, and it’s incredibly important that each of us in the team remember that. There will be more competitions to compete in, more poster to make, webcomics to draw and so much more. Next year is going to be fantastic.”