Building for the Sake of Humanity
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
Our team, the CocoNuts, is creating change in Arizona by starting rural FIRST® teams in and around the Flagstaff area and inspiring students’ STEM interest in communities that normally wouldn’t have access to in-depth science programs through traditional school curriculum. We’re currently using two grants from the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and a FIRST Equity and Access grant to help pilot new STEM teams in dormitory schools on the Diné (Navajo) Reservation, hosting training sessions and workshops to support coaches and teams through the entire season. Ultimately, the CocoNuts will mentor these teams so younger students have relatable role models and can better see themselves in STEM. We travel often to different indigenous schools, hosting full-day FIRST® LEGO® League workshops, and even as far as Navajo Mountain, Utah, to help their team build a robot. Once restrictions from the pandemic are lifted, we hope to offer even more support and visit the indigenous schools more often.
Flagstaff embraces STEM education – in 2012, the Flagstaff City Council proclaimed Flagstaff America’s first STEM community – and we were commissioned by the city to create a replica lunar rover for local community fairs and festivals in honor of the Flagstaff’s role in the Apollo Moon Missions. The rover has allowed us to spark conversations with local political leaders, mentors, sponsors, volunteers, parents, students, and general community members about their interest in science and engineering, and our “FLL in a Nutshell” program helps guide coaches on starting and maintaining new teams.