San Benito County’s growing and enthusiastic community of robotics students and mentors held an inaugural Robotics Community Day at Hollister High School’s Science & Robotics building April 15.
Families, kids and anyone interested in robotics and STEM education were treated to demonstrations and presentations by local HHS students who compete in the school’s FIRST Robotics Competition program. Younger attendees also got a chance to learn about local programs available at the elementary and middle school levels: the FIRST Lego League and the FIRST Tech Challenge.
Interest in robotics has grown rapidly in San Benito County in recent years, according to adult mentors and coaches at the April 15 event. The high school’s FRC team has grown from 10 to 40 students in just the last four years.
Hoping to keep that momentum going in an effort to build longer-lasting interest in STEM education and careers, the mentors and coaches recently formed the nonprofit San Benito Robotics. One key purpose of the nonprofit is to connect all age and grade levels of students involved in FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
“This event is to highlight all the robotics and STEM options to our community and hopefully get more involvement because we want to build more FLL programs and more FTC programs, and get more people interested,” said Isabela Anderson, HHS junior and Secretary of the FRC team. “We hope that kids at a young age will feed into our high school program when they (reach) that age.”
Anderson and other FRC members also serve as mentors and coaches to the students on the younger teams, some of whom participated in demos and presentations at the April 15 event.
At the April 15 Robotics Community Day, high school FRC members in the Science & Robotics building’s outdoor quad area controlled wireless robots they had created, which could perform a variety of tasks and challenges. Attendees were offered to try their hand at the controls, or interact with the robots.
Inside the first-floor shop and classrooms were presentations and more hands-on demonstrations and activities with smaller-scale FLL and FTC projects, including creations with a laser cutter and a 3D printer.
Anderson plans to continue her STEM education beyond high school and pursue a career in the field. This season so far, Anderson has been particularly proud of the local FLL, or elementary school, team members she has worked with.
“Throughout the season, they have grown so much and it’s inspiring seeing how everyone at that age can be excited about STEM,” Anderson said. “I think that it really shows that future generations have the passion and the potential to achieve great things.”
For more information about San Benito Robotics—including how to volunteer, donate or be a sponsor—visit their website at sanbenitorobotics.org.