Today’s guest post is by Stacey Jones, FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. and FIRST® LEGO® League Partner for South Florida, USA.
I have been involved in FIRST® since 1997, when my husband came into the kitchen and told me (his pregnant wife) that he was going to help a new high school robotics team that his company was sponsoring for “just a few hours a week.” That was 22 years ago, and I am so thankful for the discovery of our FIRST family and that we were able to raise our four children to believe in not only what they are but what they can do for others.
Another blessing from FIRST came two years ago when I was asked by the South Florida Affiliate Partner, Green Mouse Academy, to become the Program Coordinator for FIRST LEGO League in my region. The benefits of FIRST continue to amaze me, and our FIRST Family keeps growing and growing.
Have you ever been on a FIRST vacation? This July, I asked my family to do something unique and special when we took a Caribbean Cruise. Before our trip, we contacted a company that offered to take us on a private excursion to visit a local school on the island of Roatan, which is off Honduras. The trip ended up combining all our favorite things – diving, sightseeing, snorkeling, eating, and introducing people to FIRST.
As we docked at Roatan, we carried a suitcase full of LEGO® bags that were donated by Green Mouse Academy along with FIRST coloring pages, crayons, and two STEM activity boxes from FIRST® Robotics Competition Teams 180 and 1902. The translator and tour guide met us at the port and drove us to the four-room school which had limited electricity, no air conditioning, and no running water. The dirt schoolyard was full of children ages 3 to 13 and their teacher, who waited for hours for us to arrive even though it was their summer break!
Once we got into the classroom, we pulled out one of the STEM activities which involved creating a LEGO balloon car that the kids could keep. This hands-on activity is fantastic to use in any setting, and it was amazing to see the kids smile when their cars scooted across the table. We also gave the teacher information about becoming involved in FIRST, FIRST LEGO League Jr., and FIRST LEGO League to lay the groundwork for possible future teams.
I wanted to share this experience with our #STEMsquad so they can think about sharing the FIRST experience during their own fun and unique vacations.