Meet Bella and Maverick
Howell, Michigan is home to FIRST® Tech Challenge team KRASH and students Bella (grade 8) and Maverick (grade 7). Bella and Maverick saw a need to bring FIRST® and STEM to more kids and decided to take action. They realized that kids on team KRASH have so much fun participating in FIRST that they rose the question, “How can we spread the word of FIRST and get more kids involved?” The answer: A new version of the classic “Little Free Library” project, which the team has named “STEM Box.”
STEM Box is a centrally located box within the community that houses free STEM kits with activities geared towards elementary students. Every few weeks Team KRASH switches out the kits in the box to ensure that the activities are new, exciting and engaging. Through their Instagram page they have promoted STEM Boxes and made connections with teams both domestically and internationally to help start boxes in other communities.
Bella (grade 8) and Maverick (grade 7) are students on Team KRASH who both have had large roles in championing this project. Keep reading to learn more about their experience with FIRST and creating STEM Boxes.
Q & A
FIRST Staff: What inspired you to start the STEM Box project?
Bella: Our team wanted to get students (and mentors) involved and interested in FIRST and all the great programs they provide. We have many little free libraries in our community, and that is what inspired our STEM Box. We put our own spin on the little free libraries, with giving away a free interactive STEM kit instead of the usual books.
Maverick: It was inspired by seeing the little free libraries on the side of the road where people could get books to read. We wanted to make something free that kids could take home that was about STEM
FIRST Staff: What would you say to someone who has never tried a STEM activity?
Bella: STEM is so fun; you should give it a shot! It’s such a great skillset to have and is really interesting, and a super great way to get involved in your community!
Maverick: Try it! STEM activities are super fun things and can teach you a lot of skills you can use in real life.
FIRST Staff: What’s next for the STEM Box project?
Bella: For our STEM Box, we would next like to get other STEM Boxes set up in the communities of other FIRST teams. We want to spread the word of FIRST and help kids learn about STEM, while having fun and making a difference.
Maverick: We want to have more FIRST Tech Challenge teams or even FIRST® LEGO® League or FIRST® Robotics Competition teams reach out to us to start their own STEM Box in their community. I would like to see the KRASH STEM Box keep growing and to get more kids building the STEM kits and have fun making them.
FIRST Staff: Why do you think it’s important to share information with other students about FIRST and STEM?
Bella: It’s important to share information with other students about FIRST and STEM because in addition to being incredibly fun and exciting, it also teaches you great life skills and gives you opportunities to learn about STEM career paths and teaches you great skills including gracious professionalism, teamwork, and Coopertition®, that can be so helpful in whatever career you go into, and just day-to-day life.
Maverick: To get them to learn about the importance that STEM can have on the future and how FIRST can help kids learn about all those parts through designing, building, and programming the robots and using outreach skills in business. FIRST’s core values and learning about Coopertition® and Gracious Professionalism® are also good for kids to use in everyday life as well.
FIRST Staff: How will you use the skills you’re learning now to build a better world?
Bella: I’ve learned lots of skills in FIRST that will help build our community and create a better world. I’ve gotten better at public speaking, teamwork, problem solving, and communication skills through this program. In the future, I want to use these skills to be a news anchor so I can cover positive stories that will help motivate people to make change in their communities, and to be an art curator to organize meaningful art that will help people to see all the amazing things in the world and to inspire them to make a difference in the world.
Maverick: Knowing what I have already done in FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge to help with our community and learning about inclusion will help me when I am older to work to build a better world. Growing my confidence in talking with people through my interactions with other teams at qualifiers and competitions also helps me when I get older to feel more comfortable speaking in public or doing presentations.
Bella and Maverick both plan on staying involved with FIRST and continuing their STEM Box project. To learn more about how you can get involved, please check out the team on their Instagram page.