Open House crowd

FIRST Tech Challenge Team Duct Tape and FIRST LEGO League Jr. team LEGO Pros, both FCDI sponsored and mentored teams that meet at Regency Park Branch Library Makerspace, kicked off the start of their new FIRST robotics seasons with an Open House at the library on August 18.The goal was to recruit new students from the New Port Richey area for both teams, as well as to raise awareness of this library based STEM program .  We think it was pretty successful in both measures!

About 30 people came through over the course of the two hour meet and greet. Children got to drive one of Team Duct Tape’s robots around and others enjoyed playing with LEGOs from the LEGO Pros’ kit. It was obvious there was more interest that there is room on our teams, or teams in our communities.

That’s one of the reasons behind our upcoming ROBOTICON Tampa Bay annual STEAM Education Showcase and FIRST Robotics Competition off-season event.  The event set September 29 & 30 at the University of South Florida Yuengling Center, not only gives participating youth an opportunity for some early season practice, learning and team building, but aims to help connect youth and teams with more support from the academic and business community.

Team Duct Tape at a 2017 competition

Families are actively seeking this type of STEM experience for their children, and too few of our schools are providing it. Often it’s a matter of educator bandwidth – teachers are already swamped.  But that’s where dedicated parents and local business can come in.  You don’t have to be technically savvy to run a team – you just need to care, and be able to help connect students with resources, and that’s where local businesses can and should come in: Local businesses ARE next generation science and technology resources.

Team Duct Tape students helping Metropolitan Ministries’ Coding Hope FIRST Tech Challenge team.

If you’re an engineer – or a writer, artist, designer, programmer, business owner, developer, craftsperson, speaker or anyone in any number of trades or businesses, you  can help inspire and guide students in schools, libraries and community center near you,  once a month or once a week.   Donations of time to donations of funds to donations of materials are all valuable ways to invest in our shared future.  Students especially need to see people who look like them mentoring and coaching, so adults of color, women, and people from diverse backgrounds are especially needed to help inspire and encourage youth.

If you want to see some of these amazing students in action, showcasing all the best that our youth can be when supported, encouraged and challenged to be their best, join us at ROBOTICON on September 29 & 30.  Visit our Donation page to see your financial contributions can help, and consider visiting your local school or youth program to see how you can make a difference as a local professional sharing your time and expertise.