Since our inception 10 years ago, The Metrobots have spawned four main categories of outreach: FIRST Robotics, Women in STEM, Community, and General Welfare. Four student run planning committees who help to route their peers to success. This gives every Metrobot the opportunity to contribute to our ever-growing inspiration cycle, an infinite loop that is fueled by our community outreach. Our outreach elevates our passion and commitment, which in turn inspires us to further increase the impact of our outreach.
The Metrobots are currently flourishing with 47 students, 54% of which are female, 44% male, and 2% identifying as other. Fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, over 30% of students come from Asian, Middle Eastern, African American, and Hispanic minority groups. Additionally, they represent 27 different school districts from around central Ohio. Regardless of background, our students become STEM leaders and assist us in inspiring the next generation of innovators, spreading our mission throughout our ever-growing community.
The FIRST Robotics committee has been hard at work encouraging students to pursue STEM through participation in FIRST. We do so as a founding member of the Center of Robotics Innovation (CORI). Through CORI, we instill Gracious Professionalism in our local FRC community by hosting an annual strategy meeting at the beginning and a scrimmage at the end of build season. We also host 3 other FRC teams in our build space and share our practice field with CORI teams.
We have created a fun and engaging environment for over 1400 participants through the 7 FLL tournaments we have conducted in the past 5 years. Additionally, we ran 10 FIRST-based Summer Camps. Through the curriculum and instruction given by students on our team, our camps have impacted nearly 100 students whose imagination sparked as soon as they connected their first two wires.
One of our most exciting expeditions was traveling to Washington D.C., where 10 Metrobots attended the 2017 FIRST National Advocacy Conference. We advocated for ESSA Title IV Part A, a bill drafted to secure more funding for after-school STEM programs like FIRST Robotics. It was fulfilling to share our experiences with FIRST to our Congressmen and women to make STEM education more accessible to students of all different backgrounds.
Women in stem
Although this mission recently began, The Metrobots have strived to establish an all-inclusive STEM community and encourage girls to break down barriers with the Women in STEM group. It starts with increasing the number of female participants on our team. 10 years ago, we began with only 10% female participation, a number that has risen dramatically, reaching 54% in the past 2 seasons. Moreover, our current leadership is 50% female, and our top management positions, both engineering and business related, have been held by women every year since we formed.
In efforts to encourage the girls in our community, 3324 has run an FLL camp for girls and assisted The PAST Foundation with their TechnoFashion summer camp, as well as participated in their initiative, Girls Who Lead, where girls on our team shared their experience as STEM leaders. Additionally, we have created Women-in-STEM-themed buttons that we hand out at competitions and events our team host, an initiative that encourages more support for women in STEM.
Our inspiration cycle is further fueled as we work to organize a STEM expo for middle and high school girls, as well as creating a podcast about solving the stigma surrounding women in STEM. The Women in STEM group continues to inspire girls on our team and community, motivating them to break the glass ceiling and assist us in promoting gender diversity in STEM.
On its journey through space, The Metrobots Community group increases awareness for STEM in the Greater Columbus area. Every year, we demonstrate our robot at locations such as The Ohio State Fair, Honda STEM Fest, Battelle and our own Maker Mania events. Because of our community involvement, we were recently asked to present at the Devol’s Dance, an invite-only automation summit featuring tech startup executives and former Ohio Governor John Kasich. Through these demos, we have been able to bring STEM to both younger and older members of our community.
3324 also spends time each year conducting workshops for youth in Columbus that have limited access to educational opportunities in STEM. We hosted a workshop for Healthy Asian Youth, an organization that works with disadvantaged Asian American students. We have hosted 13 Maker Mania events and numerous library workshops, introducing youth to the wonders of STEM and robotics. The Community group runs and assists summer camps with The PAST Foundation focusing on Arduino Robotics, 3D printing, Minecraft Mathematics, and much more. Through these summer camps, we inspired more than 650 students from around Columbus to immerse themselves in STEM. However, our inspiration cycle does not allow us to stop there! We are currently developing STEM kits that will be distributed to local libraries, teaching students about Arduino, FLL, coding, and more.
In order to share our experience in STEM with our community, our local radio station, WOSU, is currently producing a film focused around The Metrobots’ journey through build season to share with our community.
Our latest group, General Welfare, has already gone far with its goal of helping our community beyond education. Beginning with multiple E-cycle collections to lower the amount of electronic waste in our community, 3324 has reached out to do much more. The Metrobots are officially part of the Columbus Adopt-A-Highway program, where multiple times a year, students meet to clean up our designated roads. A sign is being placed along the road to recognize our team's effort. We have reached out to local parks to perform trash cleanups there as well.
In order to further explore and make an impact in our community, we are hosting a baby shower for pregnant and new mothers in the underserved areas of Columbus. We are very excited to host this event, providing educational resources to mothers about taking care of themselves and their future child. We are also planning a drive to donate and fix bikes for Franklinton Cycle Works, an organization that offers affordable access to bikes. Our inspiration cycle allows the General Welfare mission to quickly advance as our humanitarian and environmental volunteer work becomes more impactful.