The Big Picture
The vision of STEM HQ is to develop fun, engaging, STEM oriented programs focusing on robotics for students in the form of a unique, self-sustainable model that puts students and professionals under one roof.
The biggest obstacle to establishing advanced robotics programs in local high schools is the lack of a permanent workspace. We aim to solve this problem by centralizing the workspace for local teams, offer technology focused summer camps and programs in one facility. By pooling resources and tools, and housing multiple robotics teams under one roof, we are able to maximize the number of students reached through these programs by eliminating barriers to entry (workspace, equipment, robotics kits) and maximizing avenues to success (collaboration, professional mentor access).
In order to truly realize the vision of a robotics league within Delray Beach & Boca Raton, a decent number of teams must be formed to allow for reasonable competition. Currently, we work with interested parents, schools, and students to help teams get formed, and follow by coordinating league events. In the future, by means of creating our permanent centralized workspace (techGarage), it is our hope that teams from across Delray Beach & Boca Raton can work together, and compete, under one roof.
TechGarage - The Unique Fusion
The TechGarage is our vision of a centralized robotics workspace and we need community support to make it happen. Our primary goal is to capture students at a young age and encourage them to explore science, technology, engineering, and math as future careers.
Every student regardless of interests, skills or social-economic background would benefit from interacting with professional engineers, artists, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs. Doing this in a setting where they are working towards a common goal will inspire students and the world will be a better place for it.
We plan to make TechGarage a public membership-fee based toolshop to attract entrepreneurs, hobbyists, local businesses and artists that need access to advanced tools and equipment. TechGarage, with its STEM based focus on competitive robotics will have space and access to top-of-the-line rapid prototyping equipment for members at a flat monthly rate. The fee based monthly model for a facility filled with rapid prototyping equipment has already been proven to be successful model nationwide by the TechShop (www.techshop.ws)
Putting professionals with a wide range of skills under the same roof as students eager to learn about STEM creates what we truly believe to be a unique fusion of industrial applications and student education that will become a technological innovation hub.
A Truly Sustainable Model
The core benefit of a facility such as TechGarage is the sustainability it brings to educational robotics programs. Not only are resources, tools, and expertise pooled and shared, but funding from mebership fees to the toolshop (MakerSpace) allow for more teams to be created and more youth to be reached. The interworkings of the TechGarage are truly fascinating, and represent the first sustainable model that can be replicated across the nation. Click the image below to see a detailed schematic of how the pieces fit together.
The cornerstone of this project is the engagement of students in educational robotics programs to develop their interest in STEM disciplines. Our programs will be focused on establishing teams consisting of four students (ages 9-14) working with the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics kit to construct robots that solve various challenges.
The curriculum we plan to use is that of the FIRST LEGO League (www.firstlegoleague.org). FIRST is an organization that designs competitive robotics competitions for students aged 6-18. The FLL is one tier of competitive programs developed by FIRST with over 200,000 students competing worldwide. The affordability of creating FLL teams, their small size, and the targeted age range is an ideal combination that will allow us to reach more students and make a difference.
The program will model youth sports like baseball, soccer, basketball and football where we will market to the community, register participants, organize practices and competitions. The FRC high school students will be the coaches/mentors and fees will cover costs associated with the robotic competitions. As student matriculate and become involved with more competitive robotics in high school they will become mentors to new teams in a scalable and sustainable model.
We are focused on starting teams for kids in at-risk programs and are actively soliciting funds to cover the costs for each team.