During our FLL years, we developed an idea of creating a county wide STEM Day so that kids could come to see what interesting STEM activities occur in their community. After months of planning after contacting several local organizations, we held our first ever STEM Day on October 17th, 2015, at the NVCC Loudoun Campus. Loudoun County STEM Day showcases opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Designed for all ages, the day features hands-on exhibits, workshops, food and music in a festival-like atmosphere. We contacted several STEM based groups to display the things they were working on and involved many fun, hands on activities.
We recently attended the October 1st 2016 STEM day, demoing our Craft-A-Bots, Mindstorms-based Sumo Bots, and FTC Demo Bots. It was a great experience, where we, as programmers and builders had the experience of answering those necessary “what if” questions that are often applied in the day to day STEM workforce. One thing we noticed was that many of the kids observed why only one of the sumo bots kept pushing the others off of the arena, which was exactly what we designed for it to do. From kids to adults, everyone had a great time working our demo bots, and many people had great questions and thoughts on how we built the demo bots (the materials, and software enabling the Direct Wifi system.)
While displaying the Craft-A-Bots, the outreach team had a blast demoing the 3D designed mechanical parts, as well as displaying our Bunny Bots– Craft-A-Bot robots made only from simple cardboard material! We received such great feedback on global scale marketing for the craft a bots from our peers, fellow FTC teams, and members of our community, which all thought that it was a very innovative solution for a low cost robotics kit. Many of the visitors had a passion for robotics and engineering, and they told us about implementing arduino and raspberry pi if we were ever were to sell it large scale. Furthermore, we were able to consult with other STEM organizations throughout the county, and even partnered with STEM 3G, a program that teaches young girls about STEM, by mentoring at a robotics workshop.
On Team Geared UP!, we always try to make an effort to promote STEM activities, and Loudoun STEM Day is one of the best ways to do so. This was a great opportunity in which all of us greatly benefited from– we look forward to take part in Loudoun STEM Day next year!