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While most high school students are getting back into the groove of hitting the books, over 40 Orcutt Academy High School students are preparing for a new season of building robots.

Preparation for Team 3512 Spartatroniks members includes more than just brushing up on their math and science skills, however. 

Until January, when the team will learn about their new competition and challenge, the team will spend most of their time mentoring FIRST LEGO League teams in local area elementary and middle schools.

In the past, outreach was targeted toward Orcutt schools. In April, however, team faculty adviser Ty Fredriks approached Melfred Borzall, a company that creates drilling tools, for a $10,000 donation after realizing the outreach was limited.

"We want to make sure we are doing more than just robotics -- we want to inspire the next generation," Fredriks said. "We realized that there are so many more kids in the area, and we felt like we were missing so much in Santa Maria."

The company responded with an offer -- if Santa Maria-Bonita School District would match the funds, Melfred Borzall would offer the team $5,000 for three years in a row. 

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After tripling their initial asking price, Team 3512 set off to do local outreach this past week.

On Saturday, the team kicked off their outreach efforts with a Challenge Release Workshop to launch the FLL season. About 50 coaches and students from around the Central Coast gathered to learn about FLL and the new Trash Trek challenge where kids solve real-world problems relating to the processing, recycling, and elimination of garbage. On Tuesday night, the team hosted a smaller FLL programming workshop, giving a brief course on programming, LEGOs and sensors.

Fredriks said Team 3512 is looking forward to collaborating with Santa Maria schools and hopes that many of the young FLL members will join the Orcutt Academy team in the future. 

"It's really cool how its all coming full circle," Fredriks said. "We're hitting the ground running."

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