Being an independent and unaffiliated team, recruitment and promoting STEM in our local community can be difficult. We were initially turned down because we technically did not embody one school, and it was hard to find venues. However, after several years of dedicated searching and success, we have found many STEM outreach events to participate in, hoping to spur interest as well as meet kids who are just like us and that have the drive and passion to embark on this journey. Additionally, another goal of our outreach is to encourage kids in our community to join Islandbots and further their interest and awareness of STEM.
SigmaCamp is a summer camp started by two of our alumni (while they were still on the team) and their family. The camp focuses on STEM topics at an advanced level and includes kids from 12-16. They learn from professional scientists from Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Lab, and a few other places. SigmaCamp is now one of our sponsors, and all information about it can be found at http://sigmacamp.org/
For the past 8 years, when the camp was founded, we have been heavily involved in SigmaCamp. We are invited to teach a robotics “semilab” (like a class) where we give campers different challenges that they must complete with their robots. The campers do both building and programming. We’ve run introductory, intermediate, and advanced robotics semilabs.
SigmaCamp is a place where we also recruit some new members for our team. Many of our team members have been campers there since they were in middle school, or attended the camp for a few years, and many go back to be counselors. We help out in our robotics semilabs, some other workshops and semilabs that are held there, and in other activities at SigmaCamp in order to make this camp a special adventure.
We have seen SigmaCamp evolve from a basic idea to a large community where our team members are integrated as campers and counselors, spreading not only our love for robotics but for each area of math and science. We’re overjoyed by the community that has culminated at SigmaCamp and that we get to be closely connected with them, and every year is an unforgettable experience for everyone who attends SigmaCamp.