In Graham County, one mom decided to do everything in her power to bring STEM programming to her 3rd grader and the rest of his class. After discovering the FIRST Lego League Jr. program, Wendy Millar reached out the Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) for help in funding the program.
FIRST Lego League is a nationwide program that provides themed ‘activity plans’ each year, comprised of activity workbooks, lego sets, and other support materials and requires iPads to complete the program. Thanks to RAIN and Wendy’s efforts, Thatcher Elementary School developed an after school program in 2018 where 35 students participated in one of six teams on the “Mission Moon” from LEGO®. Throughout the program, kids had to use LEGOs to solve challenges that would be experienced if humans lived on the moon. These challenges included access to power, water, air and food. At the end of the program, the kids were required to (1) build a moon base out of LEGOs, (2) build a motorized part that solved one of the primary challenges they’d addressed throughout the program, (3) design a Show Me Poster, and (4) participate in the Mission Moon Expo.
When asked for feedback on the program, one parent noted that her daughter had never thought LEGOs were for girls, but after the program, they were all she talked about. Through the FIRST Lego League Jr. program, more children were exposed to STEM and robotics and an early age. The group hopes to expand the program in 2019 to at least 8 teams if not more.
The Arizona Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) is funded by the National Science Foundation to oversee grant funding for informal STEM education projects in four rural Arizona communities: Cochise County, Graham and Greenlee County, the Verde Valley, and the Navapache/White Mountains region. RAIN acts as a resource for best practices in informal STEM program development and works to highlight effective STEM programs, employers and organizations across the state of Arizona. Interested in applying for a grant? Visit our website today and learn more about the opportunities in your community.