2022-2023 SMS Outreach Event
This season, we wanted to focus all of our outreach efforts on highlighting the importance of STEM to young minds. With this in mind, we collaborated with 130 eighth-grade students from Strongsville Middle School's Automation and Robotics class and introduced them to FIRST. We hosted an in-person outreach event at Strongsville Middle School on January 13, 2023. This event consisted of a rotating activity at four different stations, where we led engaging discussions and activities. After the event concluded, the students had the opportunity to fill out a reflection sheet about their experiences and express whether they were interested in joining FIRST. Overall, this outreach event was very successful, sparking interest in numerous students. For those who were unable to attend the event, we created a video presentation that provided an overview of FIRST, an introduction to Team STEMstangs, a description of this year's challenge along with our strategies, in-depth discussions about our team's hardware and software sub-teams, documentation of the Engineering Portfolio, information about community service, and a summary of the lifelong benefits of being actively involved with STEM activities. As a bonus, we included a video recording of our robot in action!
Station 1: Introduction to FIRST
At this station, Aryana and Sanjana introduced the middle schoolers to FIRST and explained the importance of STEM!
Station 2: Driving the Robot!
At this station, Ryan and Rahul created a little obstacle course for the kids to drive the robot through. We timed the kids and made a little friendly competition!
Station 3: Hardware and Software
At this station, Param and Ben broke down the design process of the robot and explained how the software and hardware is integrated together.
Station 4: Engineering Portfolio
At this station, Aayus and Anaya explained the importance of documenting your design process as well as community service opportunities. The middle schoolers also got the chance to ask questions about high school!
This outreach event also served as an excellent stepping stone for future recruitment. As we consider our team composition, we have three members graduating this year and four members graduating next year. By reaching out to middle school STEM students, we are fostering relationships with them to continue sparking their interest in FTC. Our hope is that they will be inspired to join the team next season and carry forward the legacy of Team STEMstangs. At the conclusion of our outreach event, we asked each student to fill out a reflection form, providing us with valuable data about their experiences. This helped us gauge interest levels, understand their favorite parts of the event, and identify areas where our team could improve our presentation skills. Each student had the opportunity to ask about a concept they wished to learn more about, to which we then emailed responses. Upon analysis of the reflection responses, out of the 130 responses, seven students expressed a high level of interest in joining, while 52 showed a general interest. We are extremely motivated to continue interacting with these students, which is why we invited them to our previous competitions and are mentoring them for their own robotics challenge in March. The eighth-graders have the opportunity to participate in Polaris Palazzo, where they are tasked with designing their own robot or dragster that will ultimately compete against robots from other middle schools. This will provide an excellent setting for us to continue collaborating with them!
Expanding FIRST to the public at the Cuyahoga County Library
At the Cuyahoga County Library, we had conducted a presentation on what FIRST is and the current season game challenge to people of various ages. The presentation focused on our skills, challenges, and accomplishments throughout the season. At the end of the presentation, we had a Q+A and opened the robot up to the public so they could try driving it. We also brought our parts and tools so when the guests walked around they were able to see each one and ask questions. This outreach event impacted the public because many curious people came up to us and asked how they can start a team of their own because they saw the power FIRST and STEM had. The younger ones who were interested were encouraged to start an FLL team so they can grow their skills and move up to FTC when they meet the age requirements. Overall, the outreach event was extremely successful and inspired many visitors.