The Nerds of the North


Promoting and Supporting FIRST

Our team recognizes the value of promoting FIRST programs and encouraging participation in FIRST. We volunteer at FIRST events to support already existing FIRST teams in all leagues. We also reach out to the community through robot demos and presentations to encourage forming new FIRST teams and volunteering at FIRST Events. Some of these have included:

  • VOLUNTEERING AT FIRST EVENTS: We fill a wide range of roles as judges, referees, emcees, and general volunteers at regional and state level FLL and  FTC events. We also provide FRC demo booths/presentations to promote the progression of FIRST programs.
  • COACH TRAINING: we volunteered at FIRST in Alaska’s new model of coach training, where we mentored 20 new FLL and FTC coaches through an entire season of robotics in just 1 week and then provided mock judging sessions for them.
  • COMMUNITY SCIENCE & ENGINEERING EVENTS:  We have provided robot demos and overview presentations of FRC robotics and our team’s goals at events such as the Science Pub event at the 49th State Brewery and the Engineering Week Banquet.
  • SCHOOL STEM NIGHTS & MINI MAKER FAIRE: We bring FTC and FRC robots a number of elementary and middle school STEM nights, as well as the annual Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire, where we help kids drive the robots around and talk to them about STEM and Robotics opportunities.
  • DIMOND HIGH SCHOOL EVENTS: We provide demos and activities as school based events such as freshmen night.
  • FIRST KICKOFF EVENTS: We organize, host, and facilitate a number of local and statewide FLL and FTC Kickoff events to help celebrate the start of each season and help connect teams with one another.
  • FTC WORKSHOPS: We host a series of online workshops for FTC members and coaches, providing insights into how to effectively run an FTC team.
  • OPERATION LEGO REDISTRIBUTION: We have taken the lead in repurposing 10 years worth of LEGOs from previous FLL competition tables, sorting and distributing them to FLL and FLL Jr. teams and communities across the state, free of charge. We have also developed a free online store to support this effort.

STEM Eduction

We believe that STEM drives society’s forward progress and will lead the world into a brighter future. Exposing youth to STEM topics allows for the potential for pursuit in these fields. This belief is why we conduct youth outreach. Some ways we conduct STEM Outreach include:

  • SUMMER CAMPS: We at the UAA Summer Engineering Academies and at the Anchorage Museum, where we teach students how robots work, and how to program and drive a robot. We presented students with challenges and encouraged them to work together to find creative solutions and practice coopertition and gracious professionalism.
  • STEM DAYS/STEM NIGHTS: We volunteer at dozens of local STEM Days Events, where we provide hands-on activities that teach children STEM concepts beyond robotics, including binary beaded bracelets, paper airplane launching, and kazoo making.

Encouraging Literacy

One of our team’s missions is to improve Alaskan youth literacy—which the University of Alaska has noted as being a common barricade for college-bound students. Alaska has an 11% illiteracy rate and has ranked the lowest state in the nation in 4th grade literacy for 2 years in a row. Our team members believe we can help fix it. Our Literacy Initiative focuses on the following:

  • RILEY ROBOT BOOK PROJET: We have written and illustrated a set of children’s book about Riley Robot and his adventures in space for presentation to primary schools and family groups. We have also translated these books into multiple languages and are developing educational materials to accompany the books. It is our hope to use this project to show both the joys of robots and reading.
  • READING RENDEZVOUS: Did you know that 60% of students lose school skills during the summer? The Anchorage Public Library has a mission to change that by encouraging youth participation in libraries over the summer. They kick this summer campaign off each year with the a massive fair-like celebration with the ZJ Loussac Library. Our team provides activities, access to our children’s book, and robot demos.
  • BARNES AND NOBLE EVENTS: We take advantage of as many Barnes and Noble events as possible, including read alouds and their annual Mini Maker Faire.