Just because the Robotics season (and the school year) are over, doesn’t mean our outreach stops! The day of graduation, several graduating seniors (underclassmen had school) volunteered to do outreach at two local elementary schools, Scott and Highlands.
We arrived at Scott bright and early and set up in the gym to give a presentation on Annie and FIRST, as well as physics club and other ways to get involved in STEM. Our audience was over 100 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. The 4th and 5th graders had been working with Lego Mindstorms in class, so they already had some robotics background. We talked about FRC, FLL, our robot, the Physics Club balloon, other projects from Physics Club like the ping-pong ball cannon, and then took questions and demoed Annie. The kids were super excited to interact with Annie, which was expected. However, we were all stunned by the brilliant questions the kids asked. They were thoughtful, imaginative, and had more prior knowledge than we were expecting.
After the success in the assembly, we were looking forward to visiting the 4th and 5th grade classes to learn more about what they were doing with Mindstorms. Again, we were blown away by how sophisticated their understanding was. They built and programmed robots to accomplish a variety of diverse tasks (which sounds a lot like our challenge!). Seeing such young children explain things like their code and how their robots worked was very inspiring.
We then packed up and went to Highlands elementary school to give the same presentation. It was incredibly well received there as well, though only 4th and 5th graders participated. Once again, the questions were well-thought out and interesting. We also had the opportunity to talk to one of their teachers who was launching a space balloon with his class for the first time that weekend. We shared our experiences and tips for success.
FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Even though we strive to accomplish that every day, we’re still inspired by the depth of knowledge people so young can possess. It signifies the change in culture that FIRST tries so hard to bring about, and if our experiences were any indication, robotics teams are going to be very strong in the next 5 years.