In our continued effort to spread an appreciation for STEM and robotics, Team Appreciate has developed the STEMConnect model. This summer outreach program creates a partnership which allows us to bridge the gap between local businesses and the community. In 2013, Team Appreciate partnered with one of our team sponsors, Freescale, to offer a week-long robotics learning conference to the children of their employees at their corporate facility. The session was a huge success and all 75 spots were filled within days. We were even able to connect with FRC 2403 to host the same camp at the Freescale facility in Phoenix, AZ. Team Appreciate continues to offer the STEMConnect model to other FIRST teams like FRC 2583, as well as providing training and support to help them get their summer outreach program off the ground and be successful. Contact us to get your team involved in STEMConnect!

Since its inception, STEMConnect has expanded exponentially. In our second year, we added 2 additional week-long sessions at Freescale as well as a session with our new partner, Breakthrough Austin. Breakthrough is a non-profit organization that offers out-of-school learning opportunities to students in low-income communities who will be the first in their family to graduate from college. Freescale agreed to host at their facility and donate the registration fees so Team Appreciate could teach this camp at no cost to Breakthrough. We also held our first session at Intel, another one of our local corporate sponsors. Coming into our third summer, STEMConnect is slated for 2 weeks for Freescale, 1 weeks for Breakthrough, 1 week for Intel and have also enrolled our sponsor, Qualcomm, as our third host. That is a total of 5 weeks of learning and 175 total students this summer who will get the chance to embrace STEM!

As one of our mentors pointed out, STEMConnect is our “five-way-win” program. Our team members get the opportunity to work with the young people of our community and pass down all the things they love about robotics. Not to mention, it is a win for the corporations who get to apply their company resources to promoting and embracing STEM. The parents themselves get to cultivate their child’s love of technology and spend a little extra time with them while they bring them to work for the week. Of course, it’s also a win for the kids involved, as they get a chance to have fun! And finally it is a win for the FIRST community. There is no better example of spreading the message of FIRST than in team creation. To date, 2 FLL teams have been formed and continue to be mentored by Team Appreciate as a direct result of STEMConnect. We look forward to creating many more teams and many more connections as we continue to spread our appreciation of STEM!