[UPDATE: While the Zombie Car Wash is still on Saturday Oct. 20, the hours have changed. The event now runs 11 – 6pm. Please come out and support SMART Robotics team at the Livermore Falls Fire Station]LIVERMORE FALLS – This Saturday, residents will have the opportunity to get their car washed by ravenous hordes of the undead.
On Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., members of the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Teams will be hosting a zombie-themed car wash at the Livermore Falls Fire Department as a fundraiser for future projects. The SMART Teams consist of middle and high-school students in grades five through twelve with a special interest in science, technology, math and engineering.
Led by Spruce Mountain High School teacher Dan Lemieux and Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Rob Taylor, the SMART teams compete in both regional and national level competitions throughout the New England area.
The students learn and develop real-world skills working with sophisticated hardware and modern equipment, Lemieux said. These sorts of interests help guide kids after they graduate, he added.
The SMART Robotic Teams consist of three different groups for middle and high school students; the FIRST Robotics team, VEX Robotics, and the FIRST Lego League. While these groups have their own programs and challenges, Lemieux explained that all three branches of SMART promote a uniform sense of team-building, ingenuity, leadership and the application of robotics and technology.
In addition to these skills, Lemieux said that the student’s involvement in START could also have economic advantages in their community as well. “These are competent, capable kids coming out of this.” He said. “Businesses are attracted to that sort of thing.”
SMART’s FIRST Robotics team is preparing to participate in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, a national level event with teams from states as far away as Hawaii in attendance. Considered by the program’s website to be a ‘Varsity Sport of the Mind’, the FRC will be hosted in St. Louis, Mo. and require the competitors to undertake a series of difficult projects and challenges with time constraints and limited resources.
“This is a humongous undertaking.” Lemieux said. “We have a building team, a programming team, a driving team and a spirit, fundraising and awards team to go into this.” To prepare for these competitions, competing teams will work a mandatory 100 hours in the months leading up to the actual event, as well as organize their own fundraisers and sharpen their skills.
At this point, Lemieux stated that raising money has been the START team’s primary concern. Over the past couple weeks the START team has been hosting several different events in hopes of raising enough money to cover the registration cost of attending the FRC conference, approximately $6,500. The zombie-inspired car wash is their most recent endeavor.
Lemieux said that he felt his team could hold their own in the big leagues. “We recently won the Mainely Spirit Event in Oakland and the Rookie All-Star Award which earned us the opportunity to go to St. Louis. We’ve earned it.”
Through attending competitions such as the FRC, Lemieux said that the team hoped to eventually gather enough interest to support an expansion in the size and diversity of START’s projects.
“It’s expanding capacity. We’re looking to upgrade our computer lab, maybe begin working on computer animation robotics. No matter what, we’re always trying to keep things moving forward.”
Information regarding the FRC competition or the history of SMART itself can be found at their website,www.SMART3930.org. The car-wash will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Livermore Falls Fire Department in Livermore Falls. Donations will be accepted.
Zombies to wash cars to raise funds for robotics team
JAY — What happens when you take some of the most creative young minds and set them out in the cool air of October to wash cars? They turn into Zombies!
On Saturday, Oct. 26, there will be a meeting of the minds with the mindless as robotics team members from Spruce Mountain High School become Zombies. SMART members will transform themselves for the team’s second Zombie Car Wash to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or whenever the cars stop driving in) at the Jay Fire Station, Main Street.
The SMART team needs money to build a highly technical, computer-programmed robot for competitions throughout New England. Acting brainless for one day will help them reach their fundraising goal of more than $10,000 this year. There is no set fee for a car wash, but donations will be appreciated.
Not only will the Zombies provide a little entertainment as they wash cars, they will provide information for emergency preparedness as part of a community service project.
The Center for Disease Control made headlines last year when they provided information on the government website about preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.
It seems preparing for that fictional event is the same as preparing for a real life emergency, and SMART’s Zombies will provide information for families on how to create their own emergency preparedness kits.
The students know about being prepared. Part of the FIRST Robotics Competition is having the foresight to predict possible robot emergencies and prepare a kit in advance to remedy them in a short time. In addition to being prepared, the students also need to be safe, wearing proper attire and keeping the pit area danger-free.
“We wanted to create an event that was worth the trip to Jay, Maine, even for people who are away,” said Kym Bryant, a team mentor. “As an avid Zombie fan, I thought, who wouldn’t want their car washed by a Zombie? As it turns out, if you don’t, you can choose to have your car washed by ‘uninfected’ human team members. Regardless, the SMART team members will by ‘dying’ to wash your car.”
For more information on SMART and FIRST robotics, as well as emergency preparedness, visit www.smart3930.org, www.usfirst.org orhttp://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/.