RISE Club sends six members to nationals, places sixth in nation

September 18, 2017 — by Alexandra Li and Sherrie Shen

For the building portion of the competition, the teams were tasked with creating a contraption to filter glitter and sand in an air tunnel along with solving a few related math problems.

More than 50 teams from across the U.S. gathered in a large auditorium for the closing ceremony of the Technology Student Association (TSA) national conference, hosted in Orlando, Fla., from June 20-24, where Saratoga High’s Raising Interest in Science and Engineering Club (RISE) placed sixth overall and seventh in building category.

The team, consisting of seniors Anthony Ding, Sohini Kar and Varun Viswanath and juniors Alexandra Li, Ethan Ko and Bassil Shama, competed in the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAMS), an event under TSA. The competition included a presentation, in which teams created a poster and delivered a speech regarding a method of solving arsenic water pollution in poorer areas, as well as a building section that incorporated problem solving.

These six students were the first members of Saratoga High’s RISE Club to have competed in TEAMS at the national level in recent years. Although previous years had all qualified, a trip to Nationals was never arranged.

As a result, the team had little idea of what to expect regarding competition format. However, they were pleasantly surprised by their final placing.

“I was really ecstatic, especially for the build award, since that was a huge team effort and it was great to see everyone's hard work pay off,” Kar said. “The overall award win was amazing as well, especially since we had seen several ingenious submissions already in the other categories, and I was really proud that our ideas ranked at the top of the nation.”

The team qualified for the national competition by placing 13th in the TEAMS regional competition on March 11, where approximately 20 RISE Club members participated.

On the day of the presentation, the team dressed up in formal wear for their 9 a.m. presentation slot. After many late nights of hard work in the days before the competition, the team walked out of the presentation feeling confident in their performance.

For the building portion of the competition, the teams were tasked with creating a contraption to filter glitter and sand in an air tunnel along with solving a few related math problems. By allocating two people, Viswanath and Shama, to build the device, and the rest to work on the problems, the team was able to finish both.

The six members of the team bonded throughout the course of five days and found the experience valuable.

“We went out on a whim and chanced the national competition, but it turned out pretty well,” Ko said. “Hopefully, we established the beginning steps of a club tradition.”