Saturday, April 01, 2006

Politics & Publicity

The Robot kids at Carl Hayden have been very busy. Our FIRST robot was shipped from the Arizona Regional Competition to Atlanta where the kids will see “Karen” again on day before the national competition, April 27-28. Although Karen the Robot has been gone, there is no slack time.

We are constructing our underwater robot for the 2006 MATE competition in June in Houston. It’s amazing how skilled and competent the seniors have become. Since beginning learning about underwater robots three years ago, they have become masters. They are on the phones daily talking to marine suppliers, picking the brains of engineers thousands of miles away and reading everything on the Internet.

The kids are now involved in politics. They helped a local congressman write a bill that would help with extra curricular science and technology projects in Arizona public schools. They testified in Arizona House committee hearings and their bill passed to the House with a 7-0 bipartisan vote. Annalisa, our president, now has a dozen legislators that asked her to keep them informed. We hoped we would increase students’ interest in Math, Science and Engineering, but we never dreamed the teens would become “players in politics”!

Over the last 12 months, the team has made over 45 presentations in Arizona and elsewhere. One such presentation was delivered at FermiLab in Illinois. Usually they pay for one speaker’s expenses, but they invited both Fredi and myself to speak. Although none of the kids went with us, Fredi and I filled in for them. FermiLab tapes their colloquiums and ours is now on their webpage. It is at

It takes about an hour to see the whole thing, but unlike the “real deal” presentation, you can fast forward pause and stop!

In the Rumor Department: It is not official and the whole thing my not even happen, but look for the “La Vida Robot” story in the May issue of Reader’s Digest. They claim they have almost 100 million readers. I told the kids, if it is published, they will be immortal because the Reader’s Digest issues stay in doctor’s offices FOREVER.

To all those who have sent emails of encouragement, we read them to the kids every Friday. This has all grown so big, yet they are still the nicest kids to work with. When we read emails like, “All of France is cheering for you”, or share some of the personal stories you have sent, it gets very quiet and brings home to them that it is a big world, but they have a big place in it. They are rising to challenge. Maybe its time to start a “Fix Global Warming Club.”



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