Tsumugi Visits the San Mateo County Fair

Senior Elias Weber shows a guest driver his objective while Sophomore Max Willig manages the drive station computer and oversees a visiting co-driver while a third young fair goer observes it all. Photo credit: Andy Cate

Over the past week, the San Mateo County Fair had daily three hour “robot demos” in the technology section of the exposition hall where local FRC and FTC teams were able to talk with students and parents alike about their robots and the opportunities that FIRST had to offer. The Bay Orangutans are grateful to FRC Team 5026, the Iron Panthers, for facilitating a wonderful outreach opportunity for numerous bay area FRC and FTC teams.

Many teams also allowed young fair goers to drive their robots. Team 5499 certainly did! Visitors were thrilled to drive Tsumugi, and a chance at driving our robot proved to be a great way to spark interest in FIRST, robotics, and STEM in general.

Our spiel was unique due to our team’s status as a community team. We welcomed students, no matter where they hailed from, to join the team. Our inability to take in younger students shed light on the need for community FLL and    FLL Jr. teams in the area, and The Bay Orangutans have made this their next goal in fulfilling their mission to provide all students in their community with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and knowledge in STEM, leadership, and finance through training for and participation in competitions. Becoming a community team broke barriers between the team and students from schools other than Berkeley High School, and community FLL and FLL Jr. teams should help the team extend its reach beyond just high school students.

The fair ran from June 10th to June 18th and though many were busy studying for finals, the team was able to come by on the 10th, and, after finals finished, again on the 17th and 18th. Since our regular drive team was unavailable, other team members filled in for them, often making the interim drive coaches about as experienced as the guest drivers. Team members who were able to attend the event agree that they had as much fun as the kids they were entertaining.