At this year’s kick off FIRST included a movie preview before the Game Release. At first this would seem odd and out of place, but once the plot was introduced their reason for showing it became clear. This preview was for Spare Parts, a movie adaptation of the underappreciated 2014 documentary: Underwater Dreams. It followed the journey of four students from Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix who banded together to create a robotics team so they could compete in the UCSB 5th Annual Underwater Robotics Competition. Not only did the characters face the difficulties of building their robot with a small team, hardly any support, and only around $800 to spend but the students were also burdened with difficult home lives and fear of being deported, being as many of them were undocumented Mexican immigrants. Although the movie never mentioned FIRST it was sure to be a wonderful way to promote student involvement robotics and therefore FIRST.
Last night almost the entire team headed to the Mall of America theater to watch and support this, what we expected to be, wonderful film. I can assure you that we were not let down, in fact I would go as far as to say it was even better than we imagined. The characters were lovable and multidimensional with impressive development and the personal story lines were all touching. Perhaps it’s just because we are all robotics nerds ourselves but everyone got very invested in the creative and resourceful ways of building as well as the competition. By the time we got out of the theater everyone was inspired and despite it being almost 11pm we were ready to go back to school and build! Sadly we couldn’t.
All in all we loved this movie and recommend everyone, especially those involved in FIRST or interested in engineering, take the time to see this fantastic film.