The Spring Konstant puts heavy emphasis on reaching out to our community. After all, what’s the point of learning all that we learn if we in turn do not share it with those around us? By strengthening STEM in our community, we boost STEM worldwide.
Sometimes when sitting in the heat, the wind, or the cold of some outreach events however, this philosophy can be easy to forget. Especially considering that the impact we make on people with community outreach is rarely felt immediately. There have been a few times in our team’s history where we have been reminded why outreach is such an important part of FIRST.
This is team member Kendrick Lemmond’s account of an interaction she had at “Christmas on Mercer,” an event in which we had a booth to showcase our team:
Towards the end of the day, a very young girl approached the Snap Circuit table. She seemed impressed by one of the circuits that had already been assembled, so I introduced her to the idea of Snap Circuits and helped her pick out a simple propeller project from the guidebook. As she got to work finding the necessary parts, the girl’s mother finally came closer to our booth. She saw her daughter working on a circuit and lit up. According to the mother, the girl was excellent at puzzles- especially for her age- and the mother wanted to make sure her daughter made the most of her problem-solving mind by engaging her in STEM activities. The girl had a real knack for engineering. As the mother assisted her young daughter in assembling the circuit, she gushed about how she loved organizations like our robotics team that made engineering accessible to kids and to young girls especially. She wanted her daughter to be able to pursue engineering and not be deterred by the male domination in the field. After a short while, the circuit was working, the propeller was spinning, and the girl was grinning. Her mother and I celebrated this small victory and the bigger implications it had for the girl.
Helping a young girl have an outlet and experience in STEM that she would not otherwise have had is a perfect example of what The Spring Konstant tries to accomplish through outreach.