The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


Robotics Reaches Out

Center Grove robotics participates in community outreach events, builds interest in their program
Lisa Porat
The Robotics team participates in an outreach event at the Indy 500 festival in Downtown Indianapolis. This was one of many events they would work over the summer.

In a small corner of the Center Grove campus, 1741 Red Alert Robotics Team has emerged, not only building robots but also as a beacon of community engagement. With their commitment to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), the team has spearheaded several outreach initiatives that not only showcase their technical prowess but also their dedication to giving back to the community.

The third-year veteran and the Operations Captain of 2023-2024 season, junior Abi Fain, helps plan these extensive community events.

“Our goal with robotics is to make [it] more than just another club or something that is self-involved, but we want to make an impact on our community,” Fain said. “We help raise awareness of STEAM and the values of it because of the growing work fields.”

One of the things that stood out to Fain is the amount of events that the team has done, even during the off-season.

“We do a variety of outreach events,” Fain said. “We have had Trunk-or-Treat events that gave kids an opportunity to get candy and look at the robots firsthand. [We have] partnerships with local businesses like coffee shops and bakeries that help us get closer to our community. Some events like Trunk-or-Treat take place in front of our Innovation Center, which is where we work, and people are focused on robotics and the way we spread the awareness of STEAM.”

Red Alert Robotics is part of the FIRST program, and there is an award the team can win called the Impact Award, which motivates students in robotics to go and give back to the community.

“Based on the outreach that we do and the impact we have on the community, on other teams and on students in the team and out of the team, it is a really big deal because it’s one way to advance through the competitions,” Fain said. “[FIRST] stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. It is a program that was established years ago. It has robotics levels ranging from kindergarten to high school. It helps get schools interested and brings in more teams and students.”

Fain says innovation and creativity is the best way to connect with the people.   

“We want people to see [robotics] not as something weird or obscure,” Fain said. “It can be involved in anything. An example is Disney princesses, and we can figure out a way to make it look robotics-related, which gets people intrigued.”

Fain has learned her outreach skills from one of the head mentors, Rachel Miller, who is an alumni of Center Grove and now works with students to develop their skills with business and robots. Miller has strategies to attract different age groups to these outreach programs and events.

“For the younger age group, we work a lot with legos, just learning those basic blocks of engineering and simple machines,” Miller said. “When it comes to middle school kids we try to get them into our workshop and through our building to see the different types of machining techniques and different things you can explore in the engineering world. So, depending on the age group is what we tailor the outreach events to.”

Miller also explained how students benefit from a young age at those outreach events, and the students she met years ago at some of the events are now on the high school team. She also says that sometimes they want to do more, but there are obstacles that stop them.

“There’s never enough time,” Miller said. “We always feel like we can be doing more and want to do more. For example, our fall is very full of events and we have things most weeks. A few years ago, we really tried to focus our outreach that we believe can have the biggest impact on our society and that uses our resources well. What are high schoolers and mentors passionate about? We can focus our outreach on that.”

Miller’s passion for inspiring young minds through STEM education shines through as she transitions from the joy of working with robots to the endeavor of “Bots Build Hope” at Riley Children’s Hospital, where STEM kits become not just tools of learning, but pillars of hope, bringing smiles and knowledge to the children facing health challenges.

“At Riley, we focus more on science, technology, engineering, and math since Riley Children’s Hospital has a lot of art already,” Miller said. “The kids get those STEM kits to work on while they are in the hospital. It’s a great experience for the kids to learn about STEM, and they have a lot of fun with those kits.”

There is more to robotics than just robots, and the public outreaches that Red Alert participates in have lasting effects for the club itself and the community abroad.

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