Robotics at Art Prize

What’s ArtPrize?

In the summer of 2009, Rick DeVos introduced to the city of Grand Rapids a daring new idea. He threw together an art competition open to all, located it in downtown Grand Rapids, and offered up “the world’s largest art prize based solely on a public vote” ( Eight years later, ArtPrize is alive and thriving, and its organizers have eagerly expanded the breadth of materials put on display.

The STEAM Village’s main exhibition room.

One such addition returning for its second year was an intriguing venue located in ArtPrize’s headquarters on Sheldon Blvd. Featuring art made with cutting-edge technology and interactive experiences, the STEAM Village is one of ArtPrize’s newest additions to the spectacle.

The STEAM Village Learning Lab

It’s conception was a simple one — ArtPrize teamed up with SWITCH, a “global technology infrastructure company” ( to provide an educational experience centered around the disciplines of STEAM (stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). The venue boasted multiple interactive learning experiences, from painting in virtual reality to challenges in coding that were geared towards children. The STEAM Village also featured 3-D printing run by Casey Newburg from Kendall College of Art and Design, a virtual reality tour of James Mellick’s “Wounded Warrior Dogs”, and a curious white floor surrounded by temporary plastic walls…

3-D Printer printing a decorative vase.
Part of “Wounded Warrior Dogs” by James Mellick. The full gallery could be viewed in VR.

A Coloring Robot

Clicking loudly as it rumbled back and forth across the floor, a square robot drew with brightly colored dry-erase markers. The floor was full of colorful squiggles and oddly angular lines, and a small crowd had gathered near what appeared to be the robot’s controller.

A small group of teenagers constantly monitored the robot as people interacted with it throughout the day. This group was the FIRST Robotics Team 904, and the members present at that time were team members Clarissa, Patrick, and Madison, and their coach Terese. The following audio clips are interviews with these individuals — I’ll let them tell you their story.




Coach Terese

Team 904’s robot. You can see the four markers from this side.
Team 904’s robot, close-up from above.

About FIRST Robotics

Team 904 is directly involved with FIRST Robotics in Michigan, a robotics competition for high schoolers. FIRST in Michigan is an extension of FIRST, an organization that champions robotics as a force for changing lives.

FIRST also hosts robotics-related events for kids in grades K-8.

To learn more about Team 904 and FIRST, visit the links below: