For years we have hosted a community based outreach program. Students volunteer to lead programs and we have hosted middle school programming workshops for girls, maker events, and even some challenge activities for elementary school students. My high school student leaders would deliver the content and attendees would experience the inspiring, relevant programming instructions by subject matter experts.
I feel like the program has gotten better with time as these leaders stepped into their roles as programmers, teachers and mentors. I learned how to step away from the role of leading these events quickly. Instead of delivering the content, I provide the logistics from sign-up to clean up. I get flyers for the events published and oversee sign up for students. I make sure the content will work for our technology policies and existing supplies. Up to this point, we have hosted events for local students in our district due to travel limitations. We had only used our district resources like laptops and our favorite programmable processor: @micro:bit.
As STEMReach has grown and adapted, we feel like there is more community beyond our district. We want to scale this opportunity to more schools but we knew that we needed to garner supplies and not rely on district resources. We needed to raise money. We had done this last year and hosted a parent and daughter programming event but we donated these funds to a library in Pennsylvania to get their micro:bits. We thought about doing this again but we also saw the value of a applying for grants to raise awareness for our program and to find a larger community. I applied for three grants last year and I received one generous grant from Element 14: micro:bit summer code club challenge
There are microbits, mounting plates for the micro:bits and breadboards so you can program with potentiometers, LEDs, light sensors and motors. What this generous grant provides is new opportunities to bring electrical engineering to new communities. We have been able to use these kits to deliver trainings in a few different settings. Along the way, we have reached out to new communities and with collaborations of Renton Public Library and Element 14, new groups of people experienced micro:bits this summer. In my next post by guest blogger Roshni Srikanth, you will find out more about the training and her experience as a community leader in STEM.