American Folklife Festival and FIRST

The 2008 American Folklife Festival will be held on the National Mall in Washington DC June 25-29 and July 2-6. The Festival, run by the Smithsonian Institution, attracts over 1.2 million visitors each year and is the centerpiece of summer activities in downtown Washington. This year’s festival will feature three distinct cultural areas: the state of Texas, the country of Bhutan, and the 50th anniversary of NASA.

Part of the NASA exhibit will be set aside to showcase NASA’s involvement with the FIRST program, as well as other developments in space robotics technologies. The robotics area (as well as several others) has been designed to have all the Festival visitors get “up close and personal” with the robots and the people that developed them. FIRST robots and other space robotic systems will be there to draw people in, but the real focus will be on the engineers and students that created the systems. This will be a great opportunity to hear directly from them about their experiences.

Team 116 (Herndon, VA) has organized the program, and they are being supported with great participation by Team 34 (Huntsville, AL), Team 399 (Lancaster, CA), Team 585 (Tehachapi, CA), Team 768 (Woodlawn, MD), Team 1714 (Milwaukee, WI), and Team 1868 (Mountain View, CA). If you are in the Washington area over the next two weeks, we would urge you to come down to the National Mall and stop by!



Could somebody try to get pictures. Unfortunately I will be nowhere near D.C. in the next two weeks.

I sure would like to be there to be a part of that celebration. Bet the food’s good, too. Can’t wait for updates and hopefully, photos…woo!

This sounds like a big undertaking! I wish I was closer to just drive over!

I made my way to the 2008 Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. This year, the festival focuses on NASA, Bhutan, and Texas. As part of the NASA portion, a number of FIRST robotics teams were in attendance at the Robotics tent. If you are in the region, the festival is still going on next week beginning Wednesday through Sunday (they are taking Tuesday off).

I took a few pictures for your viewing pleasure:

I really did not know how large the American Folklife Festival was until I arrived. Just like everything else I have experienced because of FIRST, this was a fantastic event. I had the priveledge of meeting many diverse people there.

Thank you Cheryl from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for inviting us, and Thank you NASA for your support of FIRST.

There were many highlights, and of course getting to meet Dave Lavery was one of them. (see attached photo). When I asked what the equation on his shirt was, I thought he said something about a FIRST water game. I am sure I didn’t hear him right though lol. All of the NASA exhibits were cool. It was also interesting to learn about Bhutan. A Smithsonian representative told me that Bhutan had recently changed their form of government from a monarchy to a democracy. Two delegates from Bhutan came over to the robotics tent and we taught them how to drive robots. (see attached Photo) Maybe we inspired them to consider a FIRST event in Bhutan in the near future?.

The robotics tent was crowded most of the time. The weather was 95 deg the 3 days we were there. There were some rain storms that went through but they passed fairly quickly. For safety sake, the Smithsonian cleared the entire festival park area whenever there was intense weather coming through. I have no idea how many people attended the event, but it was pretty amazing how quickly the park was cleared and then opened again when the weather passed.

i went, and loved it. what a great combination of American life and culture. With the future represented by NASA and FIRST robotics, and the section on Texas, there were two of the best things you could ask for, robots and good food. Great job to all of the teams who participated. I went on the last day however, so things were a little slower and less crowded. Again, awesome venue guys. Hope to see you again next year.