In the Community
LET GO Your LEGOs®: In 2010, we started LET GO Your LEGOs, a drive to collect LEGOs and DUPLOs. We donate hundreds of pounds to at-risk daycare centers and school groups to inspire young children to build. This year, through our "Everyone FIRST" program, we donated LEGOs to the exceptional education program in our school to include more students in the STEM experience.
FLL® Tournament: Twenty-four teams attended the fifth annual Deep Run FLL Tournament, hosted by Blue Cheese. This year, we also held our third Jr. FLL Expo. Pairing the Jr.FLL expo with the FLL tournament gives the younger kids the opportunity to learn about the next level of FIRST to encourage them to continue in the program.
Jr. FLL® and FLL® Mentorship: We have mentored 20 Jr. FLL teams and 60 FLL teams over the past five years. Every year, Blue Cheese helps to form teams at our local library and continues to mentor the teams throughout the year. We also hold training sessions for coaches and support them during the entire season.
FTC® and FRC® Mentorship: Like any good CHEESE SPREAD, we share our knowledge with other teams. Blue Cheese presents FRC and FTC workshops to other teams and assists with the JMU summer workshops for rural FRC teams. We mentored 8 FRC teams over the past five years. We have also mentored several FTC teams and funded an FTC team at a new high school in our county.
Gracious Professionalism®: Our team always aids other teams in need by lending tools, parts and expertise. In the run up to the 2017 season, our team presented multiple informational programs at the central and northern Virginia FRC workshops and hosted and presented at the FIRST Chesapeake FTC workshop.
Blue Cheese lobbies lawmakers: Blue Cheese is entering our 5th year of participation in the FIRST National Advocacy Conference. Each year we send a student delegation to Washington, DC for training with professional lobbyists and other members of FIRST from around the nation. On the last day of the conference we meet with members of Congress from Virginia, as well as members of the governor's office on Capitol Hill. Blue Cheese is part of the organizing committee for the conference this year.
Each year we have expanded our advocacy program. In 2014 we began working at the state level as well and in 2016 we were thrilled to attend the signing of a bill that we helped Virginia Sen. William Stanley draft, SB246: STEM Competition Team Grant and Program.
Joint Commission on Technology and Science: A member of our team partnered with a member from Team 2998 the Vikingbots speak to the Virginia General Assembly on the creation of a STEM grant program for schools in economically disadvantaged areas. We explained the FIRST program and the need for STEM workers in Virginia as well as America. Due to a lack of funding, they couldn't meet our request; however, Senator Stanley introduced a bill for a similar program that we backed on social media. The bill passed unanimously in both sections of the VA General Assembly, but died in appropriations because of budget constraints. During the next session, we hope to try again to make a change.
Underserved Communities: The members of Blue Cheese have been extremely lucky to have the STEM opportunities we do. That's why we try the best we can to spread that gift to as many as we can in our local community as well as worldwide. This year we held sessions at summer camps with the Richmond Area Program for Minorities in Engineering at VSU and VCU. We taught students there about robotics and let them demo our robot. Representatives from Mark Warner's and Bobby Scott's office attended to raise awareness, and we were featured in a film about the program.
James River Juvenile Detention Center: For the past 3 years, we worked with one of the teachers in the center to explain FLL and how to teach students robot programming and related math lessons. The detention center only allows visitors over 18, so our mentors visit each August with our competition robot or them to drive and encourage the students to join FLL teams at their schools when they leave. We're trying our best to expand this program throughout Virginia as possible.