The Play Space is a youth robotics makerspace dedicated to serve students participating in STEM enrichment programs, particularly those in low performing and under-served groups. We are providing a dedicated place specifically for the 4 high impact FIRST programs: FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST LEGO League and Jr. FIRST LEGO League. Teams, mentors, teachers otherwise do not have a place to meet and learn from each other in formal classes and informal gatherings.
What is the issue, problem, or challenge?
Students are not able to participate in STEM programs for several reasons, mostly due to lack of willing mentors and lack of access to safe workspaces. Shared learning and collaboration opportunities are few and typically short-lived. Potential mentors willing to work with teams often are uncomfortable with their level of knowledge and skills as well as often are unwilling to travel to "unsafe" schools. Students lose opportunities, particularly those already being left behind.
How will this project solve this problem?
The Play Space provides an available site for learning, collaboration, and community building. It serves as a location for formal training for volunteers as well as opportunities for shared informal learning. Teams can gather and collaborate, sharing their experiences. The result is accelerating everyone's learning. Students win!
Potential Long Term Impact
The number one goal is to increase in the number of students pursuing STEM careers, particularly in under-served groups. These groups are being left behind! In particular, FIRST participants are increasingly sought out at the top engineering schools. By specifically working to pull in those being left behind, we are working on addressing this problem. A benefit of this shared informal learning opportunity is that those who have skills/knowledge can more easily help those that need it.
Total Funding Received to Date: $9,787
Remaining Goal to be Funded: $240,213
Total Funding Goal: $250,000