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Way back toward the beginning of the year, the girls’ school sent home forms for 4H, a kids club where they can dabble in everything from sewing to art to pigs and horses. Having never done 4H myself, I was a bit intimidated by all the prospects. So, I sat down with Evelyn, read through the list of possible options, and when I read over robotics, her eyes lit up. We’d found her match.


To give her an idea of what kind of stuff she’d be doing for her robotics club, Jack took us all to a regional robotics competition in downtown Indy, at the football stadium.


Admittedly, I was surprised by just how many kids and clubs and schools were represented there and like any good competition, they take it very seriously. We watched some of the kids competing and from what I could glean, everyone had constructed their own robot, which was run by remote control, and they got points for stacking rings, knocking over rings, putting rings on the fastest…and let me say, some of those little people have reflexes like lightning when it comes to controlling their robots.


Upstairs, we found a place where visitors could try their hand at remote control robots. Naturally, shy Evelyn wanted to stand back and watch but that’s not exactly our parenting style. Once she’d watched her eager sisters take a turn, we thrust the remote into her hands. Surprise, surprise, she thoroughly enjoyed herself.


We walked around a little more and stumbled upon a rather long line for none other than Jack’s virtual reality baby from work. Having taken a turn on it myself, I do have to say the program is pretty amazing. So, we skipped the long line that time.

Everyone waiting for their turn at virtual reality.

A few months passed and Evelyn’s 4H robotics club started up. Most of the time, Jack and I had to divide and conquer–I’d take Claire to gymnastics, he’d take Evelyn to robotics since he needed to be in the area anyway. I’d get reports back after every meeting about what they’d done and what her task had been that day.

Setting up her robot for a test run.

I consider my range of interests pretty broad but it’s been really neat to see Evelyn choose an activity that’s totally foreign to me. It’s not totally uninteresting but it certainly wouldn’t be a top pick and if she ever needed help, I’d have to immediately defer her to Jack, who understands all the nuts and bolts of robotics. It just reaffirms that children are their own people!


Though the robotics club is part of the 4H program, there weren’t enough kids or expertise among them to really compete against each other. So, when the county fair rolled around, the robotics club had a judge visit. Everyone had to complete a demonstration and they were scored based on how many rings they could (you guessed it) knock over, stack, or move. First, the automated version:

Quiet, shy, unsure Evelyn conquered her fears and set up her robot, explained to the judge what she’d programmed her robot to do, and stepped back as it executed the task she sent it forth to do.

The second part was more challenging because Evelyn had to control what the robot was doing. She had a good run (and Henry even wanted to help when his sister was having difficulties) and managed to do most of what she’d tried to accomplish.

Her first blue ribbon!

Everyone was a winner that night and Evelyn is already looking forward to being in robotics next year, along with another club or two (she keeps reminding me she wants to try rabbits and pigs…). So proud of her for conquering her fears, working on her talents, and learning a new skill!


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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