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Test Driving.... Robots!

Eight year old Neha Bandaru made the trip with her mom from Northern Virginia to Richmond…to test drive robots. “It’s amazing what all these robots can do,” smiled the third-grade student. “I don’t think it makes a difference how old you are or whether you’re a girl or a boy,” said Neha. “When I grow up, I want to make a robot that’s huge and use a lot of technology, and then show it to kids.”

Neha is one of hundreds of Virginia school children who have had a chance to take the controls of a FIRST Tech Challenge Tetrix Robot and earn her “Robot Drivers License.”

The VirginiaFIRST “Inspire Youth Robot Road Show” is presented by GEICO and is a frequent and popular attraction at FIRST robotics events around the state. Neha and other children got their hands-on experience at the VirginiaFIRST Robot Rumble at Richmond’s Arthur Ashe Center October 19th.

“We’re thrilled to work with partner organizations to ensure that kids of all ages can be exposed to the fun and excitement of FIRST robotics,” says Pattie Cook, executive director of VirginiaFIRST. “We’re so grateful for sponsors like GEICO and General Dynamics that help make the Road Show possible. These programs engage kids with science and technology, and open the doors to new opportunities in education and productive careers.”

FIRST organizes age-appropriate competitions focused on technology and team building for school kids in grades K-12. Thousands of Virginia students are involved in FIRST programs.

“This is what the future will be,” said Henrico County resident Trina Reuben, who stopped by the Robot Road Show with her son, Joshua. “I think it’s important for people to get their children involved and learn about these technologies. This is where the job opportunities will be, and the scholarships are important, too.”

“I’d like to have one of these robots for myself!” said Joshua.

VirginiaFIRST is the local affiliate of FIRST, an international non-profit organization with the ambitious mission to transform modern culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.

Find out about FIRST robotics events and programs at virginiafirst.org.

Story and photos by Jim Babb/VirginaFIRST

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