Community Outreach, both as a way to share what we learn and engage with our communities and as a way to give back to them for all the support they have given us, has been a core pillar of Geared UP! since we first started as an FLL team. Geared UP! has been fortunate enough to work within an area very receptive to STEM education and very supportive of all local robotics teams. From our schools and libraries allowing us to use their space and even helping us reach a larger audience than would have otherwise been possible to the businesses and people in our neighborhoods who have helped support us over the years, we have been fortunate to work with many amazing people and organizations. Team Geared UP! is proud to be able to give back and make a positive impact in our families, schools and neighborhoods.
Because of you and the Coach Bootcamp, because of all of this, the lives of so many children—my students and those of everyone else in this room—will be impacted in a very real and very meaningful way. Thank you.Rookie Coach’s Bootcamp 2015
We are Team Geared UP!
As part of our mission of giving back, we’ve focused our outreach on three areas: mentoring, starting and supporting FIRST teams; promoting STEM in our communities; and trying to make robotics more accessible to the public. Over the years, we’ve made great headway in each of these areas.
Goal 1: Mentoring, Starting and Supporting FIRST teams
Ashburn FLL Tournament: Geared UP! has been helping Ashburn Robotics run the Ashburn FLL Tournament since our founding, both by encouraging our friends and families to volunteer and by setting up and breaking down the tournament.
FLL and FTC Interest Meetings: We hold numerous interest meetings at local schools and libraries to try to find coaches interested in starting a team with our help. Geared UP! actively supports mentors several FLL and FTC teams, providing technical expertise and personal experience. We discovered early on that the limiting factor in our county wasn’t kids interested in joining teams, but adults willing to coach them. For this reason, we hold special meetings specifically for adults to show them how easy it is to start and run a team.
Rookie Coach’s Bootcamp: Each summer we organize and run the Rookie Coach’s Bootcamp for FLL teams. This is an intense, all day training session where we go over team formation, how to run a team, how to program in EV3, how to build a simple robot and the intricacies of managing a team. We draw on our own years of FLL experience to get Rookie Coaches up to speed on what they can expect from a season. We also provide a number of online training resources (both our own and things we’ve collected over the years) to help them teach the basics of building and programming a robot to their students. This is a very popular program that often sees more than 30 rookie teams represented and serves as a fundraiser for our team.
Goal 2: Promoting STEM
Demonstrations: As a FIRST Ambassador team, we volunteer at numerous FIRST and STEM demonstrations and events each season. From a segment for RT to a booth at the White House Tribal Youth Gathering, we work to spread a passion for STEM education. We place a particular emphasis on making STEM accessible to everyone.
Loudoun STEM Day: In 2014, we petitioned our local government to create a Loudoun STEM day to celebrate STEM and STEM education across the county. We worked with policymakers and local businesses to organize the event and in October 2015, we were proud to participate in the very first Annual Loudoun STEM Day.
Goal 3: Making robotics more accessible
Lego Workshops: Geared UP!, through Ashburn Robotics, has helped organize and run numerous robotics workshops. These two hour programs teach kids who often have never been exposed to Lego robotics, or any form of robotics, how to build and program a robot to complete a given challenge. These workshops are free and open to the public, though since we can only support 16 children per session, tend to fill up very fast.
Craft-A-Bot: As part of an FLL research project we created Craft-A-Bot, an ultra-inexpensive robotics system meant to allow kids to create real robots out of recycled materials. We are still working to develop Craft-A-Bot into a viable product fit for mass production. However, we have given a number of kits away to classrooms across the world and continue to hold Craft-A-Bot workshops in our local community to give children as young as five a chance to learn about the fun of robotics through doing.