SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Tech companies convened in San Francisco Friday for the 3rd annual Tech in the Tenderloin festival.
Some 600 children from underserved communities throughout the Bay Area came to the Salvation Army Kroc Center at 240 Turk Street for a close up, hands on, view of technology.
They also came because it was fun to check out a little robot that communicates and has a camera.
"It's cool. It's like a little pet," said 11-year-old Maysia.
Students could explore a gymnasium full of gadgets. Attendees were introduced to 3D modeling, coding, artificial intelligence and video game software. Virtual reality seemed to be the favorite.
Not every child has the same access to technology. A lot of it is economic so an event like this helps open a door that might otherwise be closed.
18-year-old Jeffrey Perez said he likes the environment, but that it's hard to come across this kind of technology in the Tenderloin.
Among the dozens of company's, manufacturers and organizations was Code Tenderloin, which is looking to get students interested in technology as a career some day.
"We train kids who are homeless, living in tents, shelters. We get them into coding boot camp," said Del Seymour from code Tenderloin.
"This is what's spreading the wealth of opportunity associated with technology. Technology is required in almost all jobs," said Julia Beabout, organizer of Tech In The Tenderloin.
"I really want to be a mechanical engineer when I grow up," said Perez.
For some students this may be their first look at technology up close. But it doesn't have to be their last.
The festival was organized to inspire disadvantaged youth to aspire to careers in tech, and ultimately to bridge the community's digital divide.
Bay City News reporter Annie Steuart contributed to this story.