Festo hosts Innovation Night for third graders, showcases new technology

Asia Porter | Staff Writer

MBC Reporter Cullen Ecoffey brings you news of Festo’s partnership with Mason.
Robots are roaming Mason High School.

Throughout the past six months, Festo, a worldwide supplier of technology, has been working with Mason, Kings, the University of Cincinnati and Sinclair to devise a plan to make an impact in local students’ education. On October 27, as a gift to the city for its bicentennial, Festo showed off its latest robotic works in a night targeted at Mason and Kings third grade students and their families.

In the large commons, a video presentation featured “The Handling Assistant,” a new robotic development shaped like the trunk of an elephant that is designed to pick up and handle different objects. In the field house, kids and their families could walk around and look at several different robots during demonstrations lead by high school organizations. Michele Blair, head of Mason’s Economic and Development team, said the partnership with Festo allowed younger students to extend their learning while older students displayed what they’ve learned.

“(It) was cool to look at the pathways of connecting early education, high school education, and Sinclair,” Blair said. “All having that kind of robotics science teams, the waterbots and all those different types of things, gave an opportunity for students and clubs and the other educational partners to be displaying and learning and doing their thing along with Festo.”

Watch the Bionic Dragonfly in action. Video by Staff Writer Alekya Raghavan.
 

The night was filled with awe-filled faces as students watched the SmartBird fly for the first time in Ohio. Mason’s mayor David Nichols said he appreciates Festo exposing the youth to technology early on because it gets them to think outside the box.

“One of the things I love about this company and the reasons we wanted them here is they like to invest in youth,” Nichols said. “They know an investment in innovation and getting people to think outside the box, which I’m a firm believer in.”

While third graders may not have understood the science behind what they saw, Nichols said he was more concerned with installing the idea inside their heads that they can do something.

“I’m not worried if they understand it as much as their awe factor that they took into them because if you believe you can do something it’s half the battle,” Nichols said. “We don’t know if they’re going to be doctors, astronauts, maybe cure cancer, but if they think they can do it we’re halfway over the battle to stimulate that so where they sit there and say ‘I can do it! I can do it!’”

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Photos by Alekya Raghavan