Davenport West High School senior Alexa Christiansen says art is the love of her life, but within the past two years she also has gotten into robotics.
She's a big proponent of putting an "A" for "art" in the familiar STEM acronym to make it STEAM, meshing art with science, technology, engineering and math.
So when she learned about an opportunity to decorate a tree for Festival of Trees, she knew she wanted her team — The Mortal Combots, team number 10547 — to take up the challenge. Never mind that the deadline for entry was the very day she learned about it.
Under the coaching of Jason Franzenburg and her push to design, the Combots switched into high gear.
"I'm really excited to showcase STEAM and to show our support of Quad-City Arts," Christiansen said. " And to let everyone in the community know about robotics."
The Combots and the Q-C Elite Flaming Squirrels, another team based in Riverdale, both want to " spread awareness in the community," Franzenberg said.
On a recent afternoon students were busy at work, and some ornaments — designed on a computer and printed out on a 3-D printer — already had been placed on the tree.
They include the letters of STEAM in which the "S" is an atom, the "T" is a computer mouse, the "E" is a gear, the "A" is a paint brush and the "M" is a ruler.
There's also a blue snowman with arms that look like wrenches and a dragon (the Mortal Combots' mascot) with a Santa hat.
The color theme of red, white and blue is the colors of FIRST, the nonprofit that sponsors the international robotics competition.
The group meets 3:30-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
As Franzenburg said, "The robots don't build themselves."