This post was written by Team #2751, LEGO Legion of Ohio, USA. A home-school team of grades 4 through 9, they write to share their passion for STEM outreach.

Our FIRST® LEGO® League team was a runner-up in the HYDRO DYNAMICS 2017-18 Global Innovation Award competition for our UVeggie invention. We owe much of our success to the support and outreach of the FIRST community. Now we are a highly regarded veteran team.

Our FIRST journey began about 8 years ago when part of our group attended a programming camp that was taught by other FIRST LEGO League teams. Since joining FIRST over 6 years ago, a number of teams have mentored and befriended us and have greatly impacted LEGO Legion.

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Our team leading a training event and teaching programming at a local school.

We enjoy sharing our STEM dream with other FIRST teams. It’s our way to give back to the organizations and individuals who have supported us. It also makes outreach more satisfying and more effective.

When we mentor other teams, we can provide opportunities for students of various ages and abilities to become involved. They are more engaged, and we can better answer their questions. Seeing peers having fun while learning draws kids in, just as much as the robots themselves. Also, doing multi-team outreach spreads the burden, ensuring everyone has a good time.

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Displaying the UVeggie and FIRST LEGO League program at the Dayton Mini Maker Fair

Volunteer leadership through FIRST provides a way for us to find other FIRST teams to connect with. Whether it’s to help with outreach, mentoring, or even to join a team!

State/region and tournament coordinators have contacts for local teams. Or we do a quick search on the internet, which also yields good results. Most teams are willing to have at least a chat via email, if not more.

We partnered with both FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams when we were at the Dayton Mini Maker Faire.  We also like to visit — and volunteer at — tournaments for all FIRST programs. They’re always a blast, have lots of learning opportunities, and it’s easy to meet new teams in person. When we form a relationship with another team, we’re careful to always keep the Core Values in mind!

While our primary goal is to reach the community and get students involved in FIRST and STEM, we always get something out of these experiences. We learn while we educate.  When we demo at events like Maker Faires or the Ohio State Fair, we take time to look around and enjoy the experience. There’s always a ton of innovative, unique technology to learn about in addition to the classic 3-D printing and virtual reality.

Plenty of people are willing to teach you something new. For example, we connect with local businesses and industries that can offer sponsorship, mentors, and advice.

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The LEGO Legion’s invention, the UVeggie.

The LEGO Legion’s invention, the UVeggie, is a salad spinner-like appliance that uses UV-C light and water to kill microbes on produce.  It comes in two models, the travel pack and extended stay.

At the Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire, we met the owner of Gorilla Maker, a 3-D printing startup, who expressed interest in helping us further the UVeggie. He provided insight on running a company and seeking investment capital as we continue with our development.

I’ve seen huge leaps in students’ confidence, poise, and responsibility.

Our coach, Mrs. Marsh says: “Outreach events have exponentially increased the learning, growing, and maturing that FIRST LEGO League offers, and we have definitely received more from our outreach opportunities than we have given.  I’ve seen huge leaps in students’ confidence, poise, and responsibility. We have gotten behind the scenes at major public events and met people that we never would have crossed paths with. The kids have been exposed to a wide variety of career opportunities and learned so much more STEM.”

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Explaining the Robot Game at the Ohio State Fair.

Communication, especially with strangers, can be a daunting task, but that’s the core element of a business or a team. Through outreach with FIRST, we’ve found that when you engage people, there’s often a mutual value neither party would have expected.

Read more about the team and its invention. And yes, the site will ask you if you want to sign-up for updates about their UVeggie product development. Remember, Eat Fearlessly!

Thank you to our FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award Sponsors

Partners in Innovation:

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Global Innovation Collaborators:

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In Cooperation with:

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