LITTLETON - Angel Jones had been looking to enlist some assistance with robotics instruction for Littleton Academy’s summer camp in conjunction with Lakeland Cultural Arts Center. Jones, the Littleton Academy assistant head of school and co-leader of the summer camp, expected it to be by Skype. Instead, Prashant Srivastav flew his son Aarav and their whole family in from the California Bay Area.
Just for the summer camp in Littleton.
“We had no idea about Littleton,” Prashant said. “I’ve never been to North Carolina. Just the passion about doing something for rural America.”
“With that amount of commitment,” Jones said, “I’m hoping it just becomes infectious.”
Jones and Prashant met when Aarav, a 16-year-old rising high school senior at The Athenian School in Danville, Calif., was competing in a world robotics championship two years ago in Houston. They stayed in touch.
Aarav is the co-captain of his high school’s robotics team and expects to attend an elite university for mechanical engineering and some day work for the likes of Tesla, NASA, or Apple - or start his own business. His dad, who grew up and studied in India, did the latter, and now runs his own renewable energy company after moving to California 20 years ago.
“I think it’s really cool,” Aarav said of the summer camp. “This isn’t a really big area so the fact that something like this is happening is really cool, especially the fact that there’s going to be a robotics team, because robotics is one of the most important things in my life.”
The Srivastavs stayed for four days - mom Vandana and Aarav’s brother Ishaan also came along.
Aarav taught the campers about safety and design before the kids got their hands on a base chassis supplied by FRC (FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics.
Robots attracted the campers’ attention, but the point was to offer them exposure to science and technology.
“They’ve been really enthusiastic and I think it’s really cool seeing that especially since these are like eighth/ninth-graders,” Aarav said. “That’s how old I was when I got into this. It’s really nice to see.”
Aarav shares his father’s desire to help rural American communities. It was their first time participating in an endeavor like this, but Prashant hopes there will be more opportunities, and encourages others to do the same. Prashant wishes larger companies would invest in places beyond metro areas.
“Just find one town,” Prashant said. “We cannot be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and think we’re going to solve the world’s problems. But we can solve one town’s problems - that’s enough for your lifetime. Just do one.”
“I have adopted this place,” Prashant said of Littleton. “I love it. The people are so great. It’s just fantastic. Nobody is in a rush. Everybody is respectful. The kids deserve it.”