On Friday (Dec. 20th) we ran a robotics station at a birthday party for 60+ homeless children in conjunction with “Birthday Wishes” — an organization which organizes such events. Held at Waltham Home Suites from 6:00-7:30 PM (although set-up began at 5:oo PM), we had to leave for the event right after the programming class at Fiske that same day. However, we did not let the tiredness get to us and the event was a great experience. We had three main areas set-up: a free-build/challenge area, a “Learn to Program!” station, and a demo station where the kids could get the chance to drive our own robot we used at the FTC scrimmages. The kids loved to vent their creativity through the free-build/challenge area, and they were particularly fascinated by the programming station. Our programmers did a great job interacting with the kids in a near one-to-one fashion, and some couldn’t believe that they had programmed functions such as an ultrasonic sensor — but they definitely took pride in doing so. The demo station was also popular, and we had a system set up where each child would receive a number which we would call up one-by-one to prevent traffic. At the end of the event, we had a robot designed by a few of our rookies carry cake to the birthday children and the other guests. One of our programmers even programmed the robot to play “Happy Birthday” the day before — a feature which gave a smile to the birthday children as everyone stopped to listen. As people packed up, one of the more enthusiastic kids came up to us and told us this was the best birthday party they had ever been to.
All in all, this was a great experience, and we are deeply grateful to the heads of “Birthday Wishes” for inviting us to come. While teaching the kids about robotics and programming was fun, the best part of the event for us was to get to know the kids and make a connection with them. We wish them all a happy holiday season!
(Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures during the event, but we do have some pictures from when we were preparing)