Participants hone their STEM skills in preparation for the FIRST Global Challenge, but the impact of their participation stretches far beyond their time with their robot. These youth are the spark igniting a brighter path for the future, as well as inspiring many to join them in the process.
Through spreading STEM education and opportunities, we are empowering youth worldwide to build the skillsets that will enable them to address global challenges and be changemakers who will have an impact.
Women are still underrepresented in STEM fields, especially in countries where STEM is still developing, such as Africa. FIRST Global is trying to change that by empowering women to develop a passion for, and pursue, STEM fields. More than 60 percent of our 2017 FIRST Global teams were founded, organized, or brought into being by women.
“The number of women in our country that do STEM is very little. We as young girls, as the next generation, we need to change that… I believe that we can change the world.” Hear the message of a participant from Team Zimbabwe 2017.
Nathan has dyslexia. Kids with dyslexia often face difficulties in school and with their peers, finding it difficult to fit in and often being told they aren’t intelligent. The truth, though, is that people with dyslexia simply see and understand the world in a different way. By becoming part of a robotics team, Nathan has found an outlet that enables him to be himself and realize his full potential.
Larissa gets up at 3 a.m. to do her chores before beginning her 5 kilometer walk to school each morning. She doesn’t have a computer, so she usually goes to her mentor’s house if she needs to use one. Larissa dreams of becoming an electrical engineer and using her passion for innovation to help advance her country.
In a place where girls are often not encouraged to pursue STEM, these teenagers made the trek to the United States embassy in Kabul — twice — in order to obtain visas to compete in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge. Despite the many initial obstacles, they persevered, eventually making it to the event and winning silver in the Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli Award for Courageous Achievement.
Team Iran signed on to compete in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge. The only problem? They couldn’t get a robot kit due to sanctions. Team Iran instead paired up with a robotics team from a Virgina high school who worked with them to build the robot Team Iran designed. Team Iran ended up with not only a robot ready for the competition, but also several life-long friends.
Team Liberia faced many challenges on their way to participating in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge. Yet despite a lack of electricity, an abundance of flooding, and no previous experience with robotics, they pushed forward.
Not only are FIRST Global’s programs igniting a passion for STEM in the youth of the world, young people themselves are also leading the charge. Young mentors in places like Peru, Morocco, Bangladesh, and Venezuela are empowering the kids in their countries to make science and technology their own.