Photo from Flickr user why_spyder under Creative Commons for Attribution.
“The Y of Central Maryland became interested in making STEM part of its after-school offerings,” said Randall Ziman, the Y’s operation manager for youth enrichment services. “A couple years ago we got involved with running FIRST Lego League teams.”
A division of FIRST robotics, the Lego League is for students in grades 4 through 8, and serves as another stepping stone for students interested in competitive robotics going into their high school years.
In Baltimore city, Ziman said, it has become a way for the city’s public school system to train students in competitive robotics before joining high school teams, which compete in similar robotics competitions hosted by VEX Robotics.
“After two years of running [FIRST Lego League], we were approached by Baltimore city schools, who are interested in creating a pipeline of elementary kids who will become members of future VEX robotics teams,” he said.
The Y of Central Maryland worked with Baltimore City Public Schools during the 2012-2013 academic year, and 18 FIRST Lego League teams were formed. The Y handles the training of teachers and staff, technical support at events, and the coordinating of volunteers and event spaces for robotics matches, like the one taking place on Jan. 25.
“This year and last year, we’re building the capacity of the school system to run more and more of this stuff on its own,” said Ziman.