This April Fools’ Day (4-1-17), kids can try their hand at driving a real, life-sized robot during a special program hosted by the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. Two local high school robotics teams will be on site: The Eau Claire Robotics Club, also known as Team TBOR, based out of Immanuel Lutheran High School and led by Christopher Stratton, and Team Avis Automata, a FIRST Robotics Team from Chippewa Falls High School led by Tim Wolter.
“Tim Wolter from the Chippewa Falls FIRST Robotics Team reached out to us here at the Children’s Museum to ask if we would be interested in a special robotics program,” explained Jacqueline Van Hemert, director of programs and marketing at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since we were mid-construction on our new Failsafe Lab and had begun the process of exploring STEAM-related program partnerships with organizations and individuals in the Chippewa Valley.”
“Research tells us that the economy of the future will depend heavily not only on careers in science and technology, but also on collaboration, entrepreneurship and resilience.” – Jacqueline Van Hemert, director of programs and marketing at the CMEC
These two teams will be demonstrating and continuing to tinker with their 120-pound competition robots. These robots will be ready for kids to drive around and accomplish various tasks such as picking up balls and delivering gears, all at a slightly slower speed. Visitors can also participate in a variety of activities to learn about programming, mechanical design and perhaps even a bit about driving a robot bigger than they are!
The teams will have demos of electronic building kids, 3D printer design and will even offer kids—and maybe some grown-ups—the chance to participate in a miniature “Robot War” with small scale sumo robots that try to push each other into the Pit of Doom! They may even pull off a few robot April Fools’ tricks.
“Research tells us that the economy of the future will depend heavily not only on careers in science and technology, but also on collaboration, entrepreneurship and resilience,” Van Hemert stated. “In the Failsafe Lab, we place a specific emphasis on STEAM-related programming (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), but we focus just as much on being a vibrant community convener, developing stable partnerships with businesses and individuals, and exposing our kids to the best education that the Chippewa Valley has to offer.”
Foolin’ Around with Robotics will take place on Saturday, April 1 from 10am to 2pm on the top level of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. Program participation is free with Museum admission or membership and will be targeted to grade-school level kids. This program is part of the Museum’s Failsafe Fab Lab and Makerspace schedule, designed to introduce kids to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and making).