Torrey Pines robotics team gives demonstration for children at Casa de Amistad in Solana Beach

IMG_0140By Kristina Houck

Children “ooed” and “awed” as a remote-controlled robot circled the floor at Casa de Amistad during a May 6 demonstration by the Torrey Pines High School Robotics Team.

Team 3647, also known as the “Millennium Falcons,” showed the mostly kindergartners through sixth graders its robot, which made it to the semi-finals of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in San Diego County.

In the annual event, teams are tasked with designing and building a robot that will compete in a specific task. In this year’s competition, teams created robots that worked in teams of three on a court where they passed a ball to one another, tossing it over a railing or into a goal for points.

“Most kids don’t know that robotics is a thing you can do in high school,” said team president Ayesha Haque, a junior at Torrey Pines High School. “I want robotics to be as popular as the sports teams. This is a good time for children to be interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and academic extracurriculars, especially since we live in San Diego and there are a lot of businesses related to these fields.”

It was the first time the club brought its robot to Casa de Amistad, a Solana Beach nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering education and character development for local Latino children. The organization offers an educational mentoring program for children in grades K-12.

Currently incorporating more STEM-based activities into its programs, the organization invited the local club to talk with the children about robotics, share its student-made robot and encourage kids with an interest in robotics to consider joining or creating a team.

“Most of our kids come from underrepresented populations in those industries,” said Program Director Nicole Mione-Green. “We know that the future is in science, technology, engineering and math, so we want to expose our kids to those fields as early as possible.”

Casa de Amistad started in 1997 as a Solana Beach Presbyterian Church outreach program. It became a nonprofit in 2001. The church still donates space for the program on its campus in Debin Hall.

The organization’s roughly 125 volunteers currently serve about 160 students. There are 60 children on the waiting list, Mione-Green said.

The organization is currently seeking volunteers, especially those with a background in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We just want the kids to get excited about those academic areas and see what’s possible,” Mione-Green said.

For more information about the Torrey Pines High School Robotics Team, visit

For more information about Casa de Amistad and volunteer opportunities with the organization, visit