We are FTC team 13735, the PiRates (πΔs) from Pitt County, NC! We strive to get out in the community to spread the word of FIRST and empower new generations to pursue STEM interests, focusing on traditionally underrepresented groups in the field. This past season (2021-2022), we pursued many outreach initiatives, and we would love to share some of our successes and hopefully inspire some teams looking for ways they can go out into the community!
Inspiring Girls in STEM: We are passionate to support girls in STEM. We helped host Doyenne Inspiration, an off-season FRC all-girl and nonbinary student competition in 2019 and 2021, where we competed with 27 teams across NC and VA, reaching over 270 girls.
This was our third year as NC’s Ambassador for #FIRSTLikeAGirl, where we shared resources to promote the program at competitions and events in the community. Additionally, this was our first year as a FIRST Ladies regional partner!
During the season, we hosted monthly meetings with the Boys and Girls Clubs for our program called Get the GIST (Girls in Science and Technology). We connected 12 girls with engineering college students for monthly talks and ended with a quick STEM activity. We aimed to get more diverse speakers so the kids were able to see themselves in them.
Promoting FIRST: We developed a monthly program at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences called Get in Gear. We taught 156 elementary kids and their parents' concepts in STEM while introducing them to the FIRST core values. Each month, we would focus on a different science topic, creating activities that centered around the theme (ex: electricity, chemistry).
One of our main outreach events that we run over the summer is hosting FIRST Camps with our sister team, FRC 2642 The Pitt Pirates. This three-week program focuses on FLL Explore, FLL Challenge, and FTC engineering and programming concepts. We used WeDo and Spike Prime kits, along with other fun STEM builds that we call our “STEM Treasures.” For the past few years, a few of the kids who’ve participated in the last week of the camp (the FTC-centric week) have joined the team!
Out in the Community: You can find us around the community showcasing the FTC program with elementary students. One example is Freeboot Friday festivals - an event held every Friday before an ECU home football game. We have a booth out there, and allow the kids to drive cardboard robots while providing more information about FIRST programs. We also attended two parades this season where we reached over 5,000 people.
We also do many robot showcases and STEM activities with local churches. One favorite is Robox Sumo, where the kids design cardboard robots to push each other out of a ring. The competitions get pretty exciting, and it’s always fun to see the creative ideas they come up with.
Advocacy: We participated in Student Association for STEM Advocacy (SSA) National Advocacy Conference in June 2021, where we video conferenced State legislators about ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) funds and how they will benefit students participating in FIRST programs.
We also talked in person and sent letters to our local legislators, asking for their support for the NC After-School Robotics Grant. We were excited to hear that the state budget passed funding $1.2M for FIRST teams in December 2021.
Fundraising: One way we help the community is through Walks for Causes. We continue to raise funds for St. Jude, the American Cancer Society, and the Humane Society totaling over $3,900 over the past two years.
Social Media: Our marketing team works hard to promote the team brand across platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, which allows us to connect with other FIRST teams. Follow us @piratesftc on Instagram!
This year has been a bit crazy, but we had a blast competing at tournaments and giving back to the community through our robotics outreach! If you would like to reach out and potentially collaborate with us, please DM us on Instagram. We would love to meet with other FIRST Ladies teams!
This blog was submitted by PiRates, FTC team 13735. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
G-Force Robotics FRC Team #9008 is an all-girl, community-based FIRST Robotics Competition Team located in Clayton, North Carolina. We at G-Force Robotics have partnered with the Clayton library and Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls (ORCSGirls) out of Tennessee to offer free hybrid Girls Teach Tech classes as a part of our #FIRSTLikeAGirl and #GForceGirlsSOAR initiatives. In the simplest form, we offer these classes as a way to give back to our community. These courses are open to 5th-8th grade girls and this year our classes teach them everything from simple coding to 3D printing to the fundamentals of artificial intelligence. We started doing these Girls Teach Tech classes as a way to inspire younger girls and teach them about STEM.
We are so lucky to have ORCSGirls as a partner to help us with our Girls Teach Tech (GTT) classes. After reaching out to Thomas Proffen, the founder of ORCSGirls, he agreed to help us set up and deliver our classes. So when we do these classes, the ORCSGirls half is online, and then the Girls Teach Tech half is in-person at the Clayton library. Our GTT classes fall under one of our main outreach initiatives, G-Force Girls SOAR. SOAR stands for Success through Outreach, Advocacy and Robotics. We do many things under this initiative in addition to GTT, such as a STEM literacy project, the President’s Volunteer Service Award program, and participation in the National STEM Advocacy Conference.
We believe it is important to start a pipeline now to encourage and inspire young girls to be interested in STEM, which is why we promote it so much. The majority of STEM fields are dominated by men, and women often have to face numerous challenges when pursuing a career in this field. Some of these challenges include not being valued as equal by male co-workers, or people believing that women can’t be as smart or accomplish as much as men can. This is why there is a need to make sure that we, as high school girls, mentor younger girls to inspire and nurture their interests in STEM. We believe creating an all-girl team and hosting these classes is imperative because it's a great opportunity for young girls to get to know other girls with similar STEM interests, and also for us involved in G-Force Robotics, to build bridges for them to follow in our footsteps.
Usually during our GTT classes we have around 15-20 middle school girls that we are teaching in-person at the library, along with about 20-25 students that are virtual. During our classes we will generally start off with icebreakers and introduce the members of the team who are helping with the class. We then move into the first thirty minutes of the class where Dr. Proffen explains the background of what we are learning on a Zoom call. After the background is given, we move on from the Zoom call and break into the in-person section of the activity. This is when our team members volunteering in the library help with hands-on teaching and assist with any questions the students have while completing the activity. These activities can range from designing a necklace with 3-D printing software (BlocksCad3D) that is later printed out and given to them, to making their own virtual reality video game. Additionally, the software these young ladies are being exposed to has many practical uses in the real world which can give them a great head start as they make their way into various STEM fields. The classes in total are approximately two hours, and every class we have hosted with ORCSGirls has been a massive success. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with ORCSGirls and host these classes for such a great cause, and more importantly, to inspire and encourage the next generation of women in STEM!
This blog was written by Katlyn N. (10th grade) and Sloan M. (9th grade) of G-Force Robotics FRC Team #9008. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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