Last night there was a parade in town, followed by a star party hosted by the place where I work. As part of that, our robot club was invited to show off our robots (and try to drum up new membership, of course.) This was just as well because the weather didn't cooperate and the star party end of the star party was a bust. So visitors entertained themselves indoors watching a space video assembled by one of our astronomers, going through the image gallery hallway, and visiting our demonstration.
It was a blast! Lots of kids came, of course, so we basically put the mini sumo robots in their hands and said, "Have fun!" Have fun they did. The bots ran for well over an hour of straight action (thank goodness for LiPoly batteries!) and match after match of competition.
About halfway through this it occurred to me that handing my robot to a complete stranger one week from a major competition might not have been the smartest thing I've done in my life. But all went well and despite some of the new operators being five years old, they took good care of our hardware and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Batteries are charged, bots are checked out and tested, and we're good to go for Robofest Hawaii.
We handed out lots of flyers, not only for the Robofest competition, but for our club as well. (I need to print up more for our table at Robofest!) It was a fun night. I'm pretty confident I won't entirely get my hat handed to me at Robofest, and with any luck we'll get more people showing up at the meetings ready to break out their screw drivers and soldering irons and join the fray.
Starting a robotics club has been a lot more work than I'd hoped for, but it's been worth every minute. Seeing the excitement and the charge people got out of it, I don't regret a bit of it.