One of the many ways in which our focus on both Youth Development and Social Responsibility intersect at the Y plays out is our longstanding commitment to providing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming for young people as part of our after school enrichment work. While they clearly get a solid foundation in math and science in the classroom, many kids struggle with and don’t really see those subjects as having any practical application to their lives until they get exposure to a STEM enrichment opportunity. That’s when the light bulb often goes off. For our or any society to succeed, we need a reasonable percentage of our workforce to be well educated in STEM and to focus their careers in those fields. We all know that the ability to design and make complex “things” is a critical skill set that there will always be a market for.
That’s why, for the past several years, the Y has partnered with FIRST LEGO League to bring an opportunity for more than 200 Baltimore City students, ages nine to 14, to participate in STEM and hands-on robotics activities. Every year, those students get to participate in a fun and competitive event that allows them to showcase their innovative talent what they’ve learned.
This year’s event was held this past weekend at one of the Y’s Community Schools, Baltimore IT Academy. For this Baltimore City qualifier, a total of 20 teams with up to 10 players focused on team building, problem solving, creativity and analytical thinking to develop solutions to a problem currently facing our world. They were judged in three categories: core values, robot design, and the project they had worked on as a team. Four teams earned the opportunity to participate in the state competition, to be held on Feb 25th at UMBC. Teams came from Medfield Heights Elementary, Cecil Elementary, Henderson-Hopkins Elementary Middle and Hamilton Elementary. The overall winner of the qualifier was Ham Hawks from Hamilton Elementary.
More than 35 volunteers committed to a full day of supporting these young people, serving as judges, referees, setup/breakdown crew, registration hosts, pit managers, practice table assistants, scorekeepers, hall monitors and photographers.
The event’s partners include Baltimore City Public Schools, First Lego League, the Y in Central Maryland and UMBC.
There are a lot of good people to recognize, but I’d like to especially call out Devonne Franklin, our Community Schools Coordinator at Baltimore IT Academy and her Y colleagues Obette Jamison, Christy Rather, Eric Somerville, Charmayne Turner, Ryan Trexler, Kurt White and the Y’s marketing and facilities Teams. They worked very hard to make this event an incredible success and a memorable experience for 200 budding scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs!
The future looks bright.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland