Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A letter from Big Brothers Big Sisters

So Big Brothers Big Sisters has already put together a list of children for our project pilot. We will be doing a kickoff with 8 kids in a couple weeks. Here is a copy of the letter that BBBS sent to its "Bigs" announcing the project ...

A Special Invitation for you and your Little -

Many of you came to BBBS because you felt fortunate that the experiences offered to you as a child were positive and encouraging and that because of that you felt you had something to offer a child who perhaps was less fortunate. The notion of “paying it forward” can be seen in many unique and creative ways and BBBS has been presented with an opportunity to double the potential impact of such a pay it forward premise.

Mark Palatucci, a PhD student at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, recently approached BBBS to partner in an exciting opportunity called “100 Robots”. Mark and his colleagues realized they were lucky enough to have opportunities as children to develop skills and interests through their play with robots and computers that led them to the successses they are now achieving at CMU and elsewhere. Through an initial gift of $1000 based on Oprah’s Pay it Forward program, Mark was challenged to “do some good in Pittsburgh” and came up with the idea to give 100 at-risk children the chance to develop a passion for robotics and technology by building their own robot, a Mindstorm NXT from Lego! Mark and colleague Boris Sofman, who happens to be a Big Brother, tested their premise by providing Boris’ Little Brother, Thomas, with a Mindstorm NXT before Christmas and then spent the day building. Check out the following links to see what happened! and

Mark and Boris realized that having a mentor there to help guide during the build was key to the success and that is where Big Brothers Big Sisters comes in! Mark and his colleagues are looking to fund the 100 robots, but they are not in the position to provide the children and the mentors...but we can! While this Lego system is technically a toy…it does not come cheap, each robot kit costs $250. It is the goal of “100 Robots” to raise the $25,000 to purchase the 100 robots and in turn donate them to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“100 Robots” currently has 8 Mindstorm NXT kits ready to go and we would like to extend an invitation to you and your Little to be part of the initial robot-build! To kick off the partnership and set up an optimal setting for building with some expert “technical” support from the CMU Robotics Institute on hand, we are hoping to gather the 8 lucky matches together at BBBS for an afternoon of robot building…and refreshments!

Some things to consider before you say “yes”:

Do you think your Little would be interested in receiving and building a robot, do they have an interest in science, math or technology?
Are you and your Little willing to share what you have learned and accomplished with the “100 Robots” program either through photos, videos, or writing (journal, blog, or letter)
Does your Little have access to a home computer or would you be willing to use your computer to expand the capabilities of the robot? (This is not essential, but having access to a computer provides you and your Little with a greater opportunity to do more creative things with the robot)

If so, please consider being in our pilot “100 Robots” build that will kick off

Refreshments provided
(If you are unable to attend the kick off , but still interested in participating you can do the building on your own)

Please rsvp to Cheryl no later than 2/21/07 if you are interested in participating.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for your time and attention to this rather long email! Cheryl

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