S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center Awarded FIRST Grant

August 16, 2017

S.A.Y. Detroit is proud to announce that the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center has again been chosen as a recipient of a FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant. The annual grants are given to underserved and underrepresented communities to support the development of new, innovative approaches to address equity, inclusion and diversity inequalities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The grants are directed to facilitate hands-on learning and problem-solving opportunities

One of 17 winners, S.A.Y. Play will expand its robotics programs to include its first FIRST LEGO League Jr. team and add additional FIRST® Tech Challenge teams. The grant will also allow S.A.Y. Play to recruit additional coaches and host robotics competitions in its community.

S.A.Y Play initiated its first robotics program in September 2016 with five teams: Steam Team, Robot Warriors, Panthers, Jaguars, and Huskies. Steam Team and Robot Warriors are FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams are middle and high school-aged students (grades 7-12) challenged to design, build, program, and operate a robot to play a floor game against other teams’ creations in an alliance format to develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles. Their participation grants them access to college scholarships. Our three FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams range grades 4-8 and are tasked with researching a real-world problem and design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, then compete on a table-top playing field.

Volunteers from Frog Force 503 of Novi High School provide invaluable FIRST program and technical expertise as mentors and coaches. Drawing from our experience as a partner with Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Frog Force helped design a build space, purchase tools and equipment, register teams and apply for grants. Frog Force also provided pre-season workshops, an open house, coach training, mentor support and team mentorship., work collaboratively with other organizations to add STEM learning as a natural extension of the center’s mission to help at-risk students graduate from high school, go on to college, and ultimately compete for great jobs.

In addition to participating in their first qualifying events in the Fall of 2016, our FIRST teams hosted “Warriors Revenge,” their first invitational at S.A.Y. Play in May of 2017. S.A.Y. Play will join Frog Force 503 in hosting the 2017-2018 Detroit Kickoff event on September 9th. FTC teams will learn the challenge game and attend key workshops. Details and registration here.

FIRST®, which stands for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.