Local robotics team to take part in Airdrie Fest
This year marks the third annual Airdrie Fest where visitors can take in more than 100 booths showcasing local community groups and businesses.
The free, outdoor festival is set to take place at City Hall on Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers a number of family-friendly activities such as carnival games, interactive art demonstrations and face painting.
Free outdoor concerts, presented by Supporting Local Area Musicians (SLAM) and the Bert Church Theatre, will take this year’s festival to a whole new level.
This year’s Airdrie Fest will also feature a Robot Zone, manned by the Airdrie robotics team, which is made up of 10- to 15-year-old international competitors who design, program and build their own robots.
Nadine Storrier, spokesperson for the team, said the members expect to have fun.
“It is very family oriented, there is lots to see and lots to do and lots of activities just to try out as a whole family, she said. “(People) can come to our booth and try programming a robot… it will be a fun day.”
The robotics team got their start four years ago when it joined the FIRST organization, a non-profit group founded more than 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen.
The organization, which has attracted nearly 300,000 youth ages six to 18 and 100,000 mentors, coaches and volunteers from more than 60 countries, is devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology and math.
Storrier’s son Kyle, then 11, had his introduction to FIRST’s programming by starting a Junior FIRST Lego League team three years ago, which built a moving LEGO brick model.
Two years ago Kyle, who along with his teammates is home-schooled, progressed to the FIRST Lego League, forming a team that designed and built its own LEGO robot. That team of eight had great success last year, beating out 47 other teams from across Alberta to win provincial championships in Edmonton with their Listeria- and moisture-detecting robot, Swarm Bot.
That team competed against teams from across the globe, including Europe, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, in St. Louis, Miss., at the World Championships last April.
According to Storrier, this year Kyle, 14, is moving up to FIRST’s next age category. He, along with four other youth ages 13 to 16, will design, build and program a robot to compete against other teams at the FIRST Tech Challenge provincial competition to take place in January 2013.
Storrier said participants are awarded for competition, as well as community outreach and design. She added the boys don’t yet know what this year’s theme will be, but are getting very excited about the challenge.
Storrier said when the team learned Airdrie Fest was going to be open to community groups, it decided to take part.
“We have done open houses with our teams in the past, but we saw this as an opportunity to go bigger and we wanted to share that with our community,” said Storrier, adding the boys will be bringing last year’s robot to the community festival.
Storrier said the group will also provide information to the public about FIRST’s programming, which she says is “exciting and meaningful” and has encouraged her son to teach himself trigonometry and calculus.
Micheal McAllister, community developer with the City of Airdrie, said he is pleased Airdrie Fest has attracted the robotics group.
“We were thrilled and it has certainly been a unique twist (to this year’s Airdrie Fest),” he said.
“We are certainly ready to embrace it.”
The robotics team will be located near the Airdrie Public Library.
For more details and a full listing of vendors to visit Airdrie Fest, visit www.airdriefest.ca