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STEM Outreach Project

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Uploaded on Aug 7, 2011

For the STEM outreach portion of the project, we decided to focus on kids by going to summer camps and other children's groups, and encouraging their interest in all things STEM. With a few phone calls, emails, and a bit of luck, we managed to get five demos scheduled; Mclarty Park Summer Camp, National Night Out event (also at Mclarty), Health First's "Kid-Fit Camp", Devereux, and at Camp KSC. We stretched out accross our community in 3 days, bringing our demo to 4 different cities, and to over 400 children. Our demo was so elablorate, we weren't sure if we were going to be able to handle it.... but we did, and looking back at the last week, we really made a difference.

­After introducing ourselves, explaining about the Moonbots competition, and the importance of our STEM Outreach Project, we would talk with the kids about the importance of STEM, and there would always be a few differences at each location but the same ideas always sunk in. We did have some candy, which helped us hold attention ;) and by the time we left, there was not a single kid who didn't know what STEM stands for or how studying the subjects would help them in their lifetime. We had full blown discussions, encouranging them to restore our space program (our whole community is dependent on certain aspects of it, living so close to NASA KSC), and we even would tell them how STEM would help in their other career asperations. We also let them know what things they could get involved with now (like FIRST, Moonbots, and VEX programs, depending on their ages). Feel free to take a look at our layout for Brynne's speech!

Then, we set up some other individual activities, including little science experiments and some hands-on with some of our robots. The first science experiment was an egg drop where, using some common materials, the kids were supposed to protect the egg (or clay ball in some cases) so that when it was dropped from a height; it wouldn't break. Whether they succeeded or not, they still got the lesson from Emma which also applied to elements of space travel- (i.e. gravity- such as the amount on Earth as compared to the moon, air resistance- the effect on flight, structural integrity- space shuttles, rocket boosters, moon colonies, etc. must be strongly built)! Yet they were also practicing problem solving skills and partnering up, forming a collaboration of sorts (not to mention how this helped save us materials)!
The second experiment consisted of using Lego's to build a container around a small ball that would slide down a ramp; its not supposed to break and the ball could not fall out. I further emphasized the lessons from the egg drop while running this booth, but it also gave the chance to introduce LEGOs to a few of the younger kids.

For the robots we used our FRC robot from 2K10, a VEX robot, and a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot we built special for the demos. They had the chance to drive/ operate all of them. They learned about programming, and then networking. They learned about sensors, big and small. They learned about drive systems and controls. They learned about sources of energy, and mechanical systems. They really enjoyed the whole thing and we were pretty surprised at how smart all of these kids are and how many of them wanted to be astronauts or engineers when they grow up. One of those kids even knew what NASA plans to do now that the shuttle program is over and the kids at Mclarty were so good at the ball ramp that we had to make it a little more challenging by limiting the number of Lego's used to fifteen. The Kit-Fit Camp kids were supposed to go swimming in the afternoon, but were trying to convince their councilers to let them stay with us, and there were even a couple other gym members (adults) took an interest! The kids at Devereux seemed to have found an intant passion for robotics, no matter what their background. They were curious as to how things worked just as much as any other kids, and we were able to give them a very unique experience. The kids at KSC were so interested that quite a few stayed after to learn how all the robots work. They even helped to rewire one of the motors, and helped pack up all the motors when we were done. It seemed that us coming there was one of the highlights of their summer and that made it all the more worth it.

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