Biola Enrichment Program 2017

In the summer of 2017, our team took the wonderful opportunity to help Inspire One’s Biola Enrichment Program. Inspire One is an organization that educates children in creative arts and strives to build cross-cultural and socioeconomic bridges. This enrichment program takes place in the town of Biola, a community outside of Fresno with a population of a little over one thousand. It reaches almost one hundred children.

The opening session for this program consists of singing, dancing and story time. On the days our team went out there,  the kids had the opportunity to ask several of our team members questions about the robot and FIRST competitions. Then, our drive team demonstrated our robot- driving it around, picking up gears, and climbing a rope.

Following this, we broke the kids down into groups of five to eight and assigned team members to each group. On the first day, we had one team member in each group pretend to be a robot and had the kids give him commands in order to complete objectives such as picking up a chair. In this way, we demonstrated to the kids that you have to communicate with the robot for it to do what you want it to do. This activity led to a discussion about programming. On our second day there, with the assistance of the team members, the kids constructed a car with clothespins, pipe cleaners, and buttons.

Because of this program, the kids get free breakfast and lunch at the local elementary school. This is also a great opportunity for the kids to bond with teen volunteers. Aside from what we taught them about robotics, the kids got to go on a few field trips including a fishing trip and an ice skating rink. They also got to learn more about cooking and photography. Typically, they finished the week off with a fun water day.

The children who live in Biola often spend their summer days home alone since their parents have to work in the fields. We feel that this program has had a tremendously positive impact on such children. We were honored to be able to introduce them to STEM.

Girls World

In March 2017, the ladies of Team 3303, Metallic Thunder attended the Girls’ World Expo in downtown Fresno. We were able to speak with almost 1000 young women about the exciting and challenging things we learn through FIRST robotics and the possibilities for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The young women were from all walks of life and age groups. All with a unique set of interests. Each one discovered something about FIRST Robotics that intrigued them, from the building and programming of the robot, the to the business department and public relations. We took our practice robot to demonstrate for the girls at the Expo. It was exciting to see the wonder and amazement in their eyes as they watched the robot. I specifically remember one young lady that stood by the robot studying the electronics and wiring. I could see the wheels turning in her mind; I remember thinking to myself “This is why we are here.” I know she was inspired that day and I hope she goes on to discover great things in STEM!
We were joined by 2 other local FIRST Robotics Competition teams, Buchanan Bird Brains Team 1671 from Buchanan High School and Uni-rex Team 5817 from Sanger High. For the young ladies on our team, it was exciting to meet young women on other F.R.C. teams and to talk about this passion we share. We were also joined be one FIRST LEGO League team, Team P.O.P.  Team P.O.P. is an all-girls team, ages ranging from 9 to 14. It was a pleasure to meet them and to hear their enthusiasm as they explained their F.L.L. challenge for the year to us and how they had qualified for World Championships ( At World Championships, we had the opportunity to go over to Team P.O.P.’s pit to see them again and wish them luck.) It was an honor to represent FIRST and Central Valley Robotics at this event alongside Uni-rex, The Bird Brains and Team P.O.P. It is satisfying to know that we had the opportunity to help change the culture of STEM Education for girls, and had a lot of fun doing it.