Ever wonder what FLL teams do once their season has ended? For some NorCal Capital District FLL teams the choice was easy: go to the Placer County STEM Expo!

The Expo, now in it’s third year, offers an alternative approach to the usual science fair – with interactive displays, vendors and entertainment alongside judged participants. This year’s Expo had a strong FIRST presence – with FLL teams, FTC teams and a FRC team on hand to demonstrate their robots and talk to the crowds about FIRST.

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Folsom DYNObyte team members explain their robots to the crowd at the Placer County STEM Expo, held March 2, 2013 at William Jessup University

Dr. Eric Bull, Professor of Liberal Studies at William Jessup University (which hosts the Expo) – came up with the idea as a way to get local students excited about STEM. He was thrilled to have so many FIRST teams involved.

“Having the FIRST teams participate & compete at the Placer County STEM Expo brings a buzz of excitement to the event.  Their involvement brings an interactive element wherein all the team members are equally knowledgeable of their project AND they are thrilled to share of their accomplishments.  Recognizing that robotics can become an all encompassing element, the FLL presence at the STEM Expo enables them to be exposed to activities beyond robotics.”

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Team Tofu members explain their robot to STEM Expo robotics judges

Since the Expo accepts team entries, FLL teams involved were able to submit their Senior Solution projects into the ‘Invention’ category and their robots into the ‘Robotics’ category. The Judge Advisor for the Expo told me that the invention judges were impressed at the quality of the entries from the FLL teams – where those groups swept the field for their age groups. “The research, preparation, presentation and innovative ideas were quite a bit ahead of all the other entries.”

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FLL Team Tech Tofu’s Senior Solution Project
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FLL Team Cell-O-Bot with their 1st Place Invention Award and 2nd Place Robot Award at the Placer County STEM Expo!

Cell-O-Bot coach Yuva Palaniappan said his team really enjoyed attending the expo.  “While they were showing their projects and robot designs, they had the opportunity to learn about other projects from different areas. The one area they really liked a lot was Science Fiction (one of the 7 judged categories at STEM Expo) They also learned a lot about FTC and (for the first time ) got (to see) an FRC team! On top of all this, they feel proud to have represented FIRST at a big science fair!”

Way to go FIRST teams!

For more information about the Placer County STEM Expo, visit  www.stemexpo.org