Hundreds of school children poured into the Bay Area Renaissance Festival today, enjoying everything from jugglers and musicians to jousting. Many were surprised to find robots there, too, but had a great time exploring a variety of simple machines and mechanisms at our table. One of our alumni students, home of Spring Break from the University of Florida, joined in the fun, sharing his mechanical LEGO adding machine with students, and a pneumatic LEGO backhoe. We also had some little robotics and some clockwork mechanisms, all of which got a good work out on our table.
We handed out a lot of FIRST literature to educators and parents, too. It’s surprising how many people still haven’t heard about FIRST robotics, but we’ll keep doing our part to keep spreading the word!
Especially when we have the opportunity to do it at cool places like the RenFest!
It was great fun meeting new members today. While they have a couple of more meetings to decide if FTC is something they’d like to commit to for the full season, all three will be joining us at the FTC Season Kick-off on September 11 in Orlando. The students, who hail from three different schools – one homeschooled, one a junior in Land O’ Lakes High School’s IB program and one a junior at Sunlake High School – have never participated in FIRST or explored robotics before. But all bring valuable skills and talents to TDT – from mass communications interests, to interests in the arts, math, science and technology – as well as warmth and enthusiasm. We hope they’ll all stay with us!
We enjoyed catching up on summer news and happenings, got all our gear organized for the new season – a beautiful thing to see – and even got a Skype visit from a former member, who’s now at the University of Florida.
Next stop, Orlando on September 11! Stay tuned!
We wrapped up our LEGO Robotics camp at the Bob Sierra YMCA with an exhibition event for campers’ families. Campers’ LEGO
art, rubberband cars, LEGO robots and more were on display. Families learned more about FIRST, while they watched campers’ robot runs, and campers got to try out our robot and some VEX robots we had on hand.
It was a busy, crowded, noisy week of improvisational engineering and education, but in the end, we think everyone came away with some new knowledge and some memorable experiences. Some of the campers, who couldn’t quite get their minds around the collaboration aspect of building and programming, created a LEGO hockey game, complete with a workable set of rules, some great game elements and a way to include all of their impromptu team in the process. Several parents asked how to go about creating FIRST teams or learning programs in local schools, and we were able to provide them with brochures and information about where they could learn more.
Overall, we think we helped the YMCA pull off a really successful camp and hope they’ll continue to provide community-based STEM education for all ages.
As for Team Duct Tape, we’ve got a couple of engineering firm visits scheduled over the next couple of weeks, and then it’s showtime, as the much anticipated 2010-11 FTC Season kicks off in September. We can’t wait!