Outreach is an incredibly important part of FTC, and our team works hard to promote STEM in our local community. Our team goal is for every person to contribute at least twenty hours of outreach each season – last season, we reached and exceeded this goal with a team total of 809 outreach hours with an average of 54 hours per person! We believe participating in outreach gives everyone on our team the opportunity to both further their own enthusiasm about STEM and share it with the community. We strive to participate in both ‘learning’ and ‘helping’ events.
We attend local events to show people our robot and tell them about our team and the FTC game challenge. In addition, we love mentoring our four local FLL teams. It gives us a chance to share our experience with them, as well as still be a part of the FLL game. We volunteer at FLL events as the field set up crew, queuers, referees, and scorekeepers. We also teach a weekly programming course through the town recreation department to elementary and middle school kids. This year we attended Boston Greenfest, Boston Scientific’s Bring Your Child to Work Day, and the Girl Scouts Geek is Glam, where we raised awareness about STEM and FIRST programs by presenting our robot and explaining how it works, as well as promoting the FIRST programs and their goal.
As a team, we enjoy attending events, as well as organizing our own. Throughout the course of the season, over 85% of our outreach events were ones we organized ourselves. Our favorite events have been our trips to Perkins School for the Blind, a school for students with various visual and cognitive impairments. At Perkins, we worked with their Residential Maker Group to build prosthetic hands as part of the eNABLE project. It was challenging for these students to build the hands, but the process was very rewarding. Over the course of the visits, we assembled thirty 3D printed prosthetic hands which are going to be sent to children around the world.
We are also passionate about visiting companies and connecting with engineers in our community. We have visited companies such as iRobot, Ruland, Rethink Robotics, Robai, Boston Scientific, Boston Dynamics, Rogers Corporation, UMass Boston’s Rapid Prototyping Lab, and Electronic Fasteners, Inc. In addition, we have connected with several mentors in our community who have presented to us on topics such as robot kinematics, an unmanned transatlantic sailboat, and better wiring practices. We love all the interesting things we can learn from professionals.