‘Boomtown Build’ STEM initiative offered across state

Auburn, Palmer, Southbridge, Ware highlighted as eligible districts

📸 All systems are “go” for fourth-graders Ivan Fillip and Paige Griffin of Ayer Shirley FLL team The Questioneers at the November 30 FLL Qualifier Tournament at the Ayer Shirley Regional Middle School. The event was hosted by Ayer Shirley’s Andromeda One (#4905) FIRST Robotics team. (Courtesy photo)

AYER — The Ayer-Shirley Regional School District was recently awarded a Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant to help spread STEM learning and build the foundation for a technical workforce of the future. In an effort to further the mission of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, a portion of the grant is being used to fund a LEGO Education robotics kit for eligible parents, educators, and/or parent-teacher organizations willing to start a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Jr. team in towns currently without a FIRST program.

Over the past four years, Ayer-Shirley Regional High School’s FRC Team #4905, Andromeda One, has campaigned to bring a FIRST Robotics team to every Massachusetts public school district. High school students and their parent-professional mentors are running this initiative, known as MassFIRST, in the hope that Massachusetts will become the first state in the country to reach this goal.

FIRST, (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), was started over 30 years ago by Dean Kamen of New Hampshire as a means of advancing STEM education. It is comprised of four programs covering grades K through 12–FRC, FTC, FLL, and FLL Jr.–each of which offers annual organized STEM challenges and Coopertitions® to teams around the globe.

Andromeda One is reaching out to Massachusetts superintendents, STEM coordinators, teachers, PTO/PTA groups, and public libraries, seeking like-minded parents and educators to start and run local FLL Jr. teams in their own communities. Once MassFIRST has identified adults willing to start a team in an eligible town, funds from the grant are used to send them a free materials kit, the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Core Set (a $204 value).

FLL Jr. teams are typically made up of two to six students from kindergarten through fourth grade. Each team requires a minimum of two adult coaches and an annual registration fee of $114. 

Budding STEM innovators work together to research a real-world problem and propose a solution through a Show Me poster and a working LEGO model. This year’s challenge is BOOMTOWN BUILDSM.

Interested parents and educators, in conjunction with your local school district, public library, and/or PTA/PTO, in the following eligible towns are invited to email massfirstrobotics@gmail.com as soon as possible to receive their free WeDo 2.0 set and additional information on starting a team.

📸 Fifth-graders Aurora LaCruz  and Remy Duffner, of Ayer Shirley FLL team The Laminators, operate their motorized LEGO device in a game called City Shaper, for which teams researched and presented innovative solutions to real world problems. The team was competing in the November 30 FLL Qualifier Tournament hosted by Ayer Shirley Regional High School’s Andromeda One (#4905) FIRST Robotics team. (Courtesy photo)

According to a press release, those eligible to receive a free LEGO WeDo 2.0 kit include Abington, Acushnet, Amherst, Ashby, Auburn, Barre, Bedford, Belchertown, Bernardston, Blandford, Bourne, Braintree, Buzzard’s Bay, Byfield, Carver, Chelsea, Chester, Chesterfield, Chillmark, Danvers, Dennis, East Bridgewater, East Sandwich, Edgartown, Erving, Fairhaven, Fall River, Falmouth, Farmington, Gardner, Georgetown, Gill, Gloucester, Goshen, Granville, Groveland, Hanson, Hardwick, Hatfield, Hubbard, Hull, Hyannis, Leverett, Leyden, Ludlow, Marblehead, Mashpee, Merrimac, Montague, Nahant, Newbury, Norfolk, Northfield, Oak Bluffs, Palmer, Pelham, Pepperell, Provincetown, Randolph, Rockport, Rowley, Salisbury, Seekonk, Shutesbury, South Yarmouth, Southbridge, Southampton, Sutton, Tisbury, Tolland, Townsend, Truro, Turners Falls, Uxbridge, Vineyard Haven, Ware, Wareham, Warwick, West Newbury, West Tisbury, West Yarmouth, Westhampton, Whitman, Williamsburg, Wilmington, Worthington, and Yarmouth.

For more information on FLL, Jr. please visit www.firstinspires.org/robotics/flljr, and for additional information on MassFirst, https://frc4905.com/outreach/massfirst/.


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