About the Colony

This longtime tinkerer would love to be on the Atascadero High robotics team

Members of Atascadero High School’s robotics team and their mentors demonstrated the abilities of their practice robot as they prepared to head to the World Championships in St. Louis in April.
Members of Atascadero High School’s robotics team and their mentors demonstrated the abilities of their practice robot as they prepared to head to the World Championships in St. Louis in April. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I’ve never been a very cerebral kind of person. I have, however, from about the age of 8 to today, loved working with my hands. Nobody would ever describe me as intellectual, but they might refer to me as a competent fixer-upper.

I’ve always loved putting things together. I remain attracted to using a hammer, screwdriver and saw versus, say, playing chess. There’s far too much thinking required for chess.

You can’t go wrong using tools, unless you count shooting yourself in your own finger with a brad nailer like I did just last week. I’m in seventh heaven when someone asks me to help them assemble a piece of furniture that comes in a box.

One of my favorite toys as a child was an erector set from the A.C. Gilbert Co. Wow, a whole container of metal girders, wheels, nuts and bolts and, if you paid for an upgrade, even an electric motor. An American company, Gilbert also produced magic kits, telescopes and even a chemistry set where you could actually make your own explosive device. I eventually got another Gilbert toy in about 1949, an American Flyer electric train set.

All this is to say I’d love to be on the Atascadero High School robotics team, the Greybots. This after-school program provides an opportunity for students to work together to design and build a robot that can perform a task as determined by the larger sponsoring organization.

Every year since it began, the local teams have received technical awards that recognize robot design, workmanship and the ability to perform tasks required in each year’s game.

This program started about 15 years ago, and the Atascadero squad has done quite well, winning even national championships. Sadly the program is not funded by the Atascadero Unified School District. The team has to go out and earn the money, which, according to a news release I got recently, is $65,000 this year.

The first major fundraising event — called “Boogie with the Bots” — is coming up Oct. 8 at the Atascadero Community Church. The event features food catered by The Tamale Man, music by Up in the Air, dancing, live and silent auctions and robot demonstrations. Tickets are $25. You can contact longtime adviser Jan Price at 805-466-4195. The event begins at 5:30 in the Fellowship Hall. Ticket info is also available at www.boogiewiththebots.brownpapertickets.com.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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