On Saturday, Feb. 7, we spoke with Kristen of Oxford, Michigan. She is a member of Oxford High School’s Robotics Team TORC #2137. Along with her teammates, Kristen helped organize a massive water drive in her community. We caught up with her in the parking lot of the Avery Aldridge Activity Center in Flint’s North End. Here’s what Kristen had to say.
Can you tell us what you’re doing here today? Who’s here and what’s going on?
Kristen: We put together an effort to unite a bunch of other robotics teams to bring water to Flint today, so everyone was collecting for the past two weeks and all the teams have brought it up here and we’re all unloading today.
How long have you been working on this?
Kristen: Two to three weeks. Two weeks for collection, three weeks to kind of put it into action.
How much water did you bring here today?
Kristen: Our team brought just under 3,000 [cases] and then the other teams brought 500, 1000. I’m not sure. A lot.
Can you describe the scene for us? Can you tell us what’s going on here? This massive human chain.
Kristen: Yeah, so we’ve got a semi-truck that they’re unloading with almost 3,000 cases of water, and we’ve got lines of teams all across Michigan. Teams from Armada, Sterling Heights, Howell all the way along this line into the building, so they’re all passing it one by one, the good old assembly line way.
Tell us a little bit about your robotics team. What do you normally do as a team? Is this something that’s pretty unusual for you?
Kristen: No, our team, we build robots. Our build season is from January to the end of February, but a lot of times even during the build season and off season we try to do as much community outreach as we can, so this kind of just started as an idea. Someone said it and was like, “Hey, we should do this,” so we bounced around some ideas and then all of the sudden, we contacted other teams on Facebook and it ended up turning out a lot larger than we thought.
Kristen: Yeah. Our whole Oxford community even came to help us load the semi, so it was crazy. Everyone really chipped in.
Did you help load the semi?
Kristen: Yes. Nine hours yesterday, I have bruises all over my body. And we’re doing it again today.
So we’ve got a forklift here today but you didn’t have one yesterday.
Kristen: No, the forklift at the factory that was donated for us to store it actually had no brakes so we could not use it. Everything was loaded by hand and by hand carts. Today we’ve got the forklift, but it still takes a lot of manpower to do the cases that are not on nice pallets, so it’s awesome that all these teams came out. I could not be more thankful. It’s crazy.
Yeah, of course. This is incredible.
Kristen: It is.
Can you talk about why you felt like this is something that you wanted to do? You’re spending half of your weekend out here and you spent a lot of time preparing for this. Why was it so important for your team? Why did you want to get involved?
Kristen: We use water to build our robots, we use it to weld, we use it to do all kinds of things, but just living without water—no one on our team could even imagine living without water—so we really wanted to do something to help, we just didn’t know what. Then this came, so we really worked hard to put all this together.
How much were you involved with the planning? Did you help organize a little bit?
Kristen: Yeah. It was kind of my idea and then I texted some of the mentors and they were like, “Yeah, we should do something.” Then we kind of just were thinking, okay, well we could have the school do it, and then we presented it to our school board and they were like, “Okay we’ll have the high school do it.” Then we posted it on Facebook and a mom’s Facebook group donated a bunch of cases and the fire department let us collect [there] and the library was a collection site, so it was a long planning process. We were on the phone til 3:00 AM some mornings, making fliers, getting the word out. It was a lot of effort.
It looks like that effort paid off big time.
Kristen: Yeah, I’m really excited. I’m just so impressed by everything everyone’s doing.
Is there anything, any message for the Flint community that you want to share that you want them to know?
Kristen: I hope that they can be inspired that we’re just one small team. We only have 40 kids and this just started as one idea. Get a bunch of engineers together, and I guess this happens.
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