Your monthly report on Kansas City STEM happenings

ANIMAL ALLIES in action as

FIRST LEGO League qualifiers begin

Photography by Charles Maples

FIRST LEGO League teams across the region are considering how people and animals can work together to make a better world in this season's ANIMAL ALLIES challenge. Teams have been building and programming their robots and working to complete their missions (ranging from helping service dogs to milking cows) on the playing field. Now they're putting their work to the test during FLL Qualifying Tournaments, which began Nov. 12 and lead up to the Kansas City Regional championships on Jan.14, 2017, at Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology Campus. The tournaments are FREE and open to the public. See the schedule.

PLTW Biomed Day: Teachers, counselors convene with higher ed reps, workplace mentors at Rockhurst

Project Lead The Way Biomedical Sciences teachers and school counselors from across the region stocked up on information and ideas to share with their students during KC STEM Alliance's PLTW Teacher/Counselor Mentor Day on Nov. 11 at Rockhurst University. The day was packed with information-gathering opportunities, including booths from regional colleges and universities and the new KC Scholars program.

Employees of Children's Mercy Hospital gave insights about career options ranging from immunization control to safety and error prevention during a panel discussion. Teachers and counselors also received an update on the changing landscape of nursing with UMKC School of Nursing and Studies and dug into the nuances of career pathways in Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy from faculty of Rockhurst University and Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley.

KC Scholars: Scholarships + college savings program to support metro students, adult learners

KC Scholars offers three college scholarship opportunities for low- or modest-income students and families living in the KC metro area:
Traditional Scholarship, awarded in 11th grade
Adult Learners
College Savings Match, awarded in 9th grade
Applications open on Jan. 2, 2017, and must be submitted by March 3. Awardees will be notified in May. Find all of the details at Please share this opportunity with families and students in your networks.

Meet Collin Robinett: FIRST Americorps VISTA

FIRST Robotics Competition alumni Collin Robinett knows firsthand what kind of difference FIRST can make in a student’s life. Now he’s spending a year as an Americorps VISTA to help teams in underserved and under-represented areas get the same benefits.

You may see Collin and fellow FIRST VISTA Dylan Fuehrer at regional competition managing logistics to create a great event for participating teams. Collin, who earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle, looks forward to introducing students to STEM.

"The fact that I am actively working to bring as many students as possible into a STEM environment through KC STEM and FIRST is so fulfilling,” Collin said. "Plus I get to work with LEGO and robots a lot of the time, and who can say no to that?"

A fan of all all kinds of games—board games, card games, video games and sports—Collin notes another benefit FIRST offers students:

"The fact that FIRST promotes Gracious Professionalism and competing as hard as you can while still trying to learn and work with others is one of the best ways I've seen to scratch that competitive itch while having a fantastic time doing it,” he says. "Plus, especially where these kids may be going, there really aren't any losers.”

KC shines at Missouri Project Lead The Way
State Conference; now largest in the country

Nearly 1,000 PLTW educators and partners met for two days of collaborating, sharing best practices and learning new ways to engage and empower students during the Missouri PLTW State Conference in late October.

KC STEM Alliance staff shared presentations on the value of corporate and community partnerships and introduced the KC Health Tracks program. And KC-area schools represented the region well, taking home four of seven dedication and service awards. Five area districts also were recognized for providing PLTW access to all of their students at all levels: Adrian R-3, Blue Springs R-IV, Brookside Charter, Liberty 53, Park Hill, Pleasant Hill R-III and St. Therese.

Congratulations to these teachers recognized at the the conference:

  • Louis Breinen, North Kansas City High School, Outstanding Engineer Teacher;
  • Kevin Clevenger, Blue Springs High School, Outstanding Computer Science Teacher;
  • Brandon Lewis, Shoal Creek Elementary, Outstanding Launch Teacher;
  • Sandro Medina, Antioch Middle School, Outstanding Gateway Teacher.

Girls Get Engaged with Manufacturing

KC STEM Alliance brought hands-on STEM fun to the Girls Engaged in Manufacturing Day on Nov. 10 at Metropolitan Community College. The GEM Make It Real Summit was organized by SITE KC to introduce female middle and high school students to opportunities in advanced manufacturing.

The day was part of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce's "Dream It. Do It." initiative and included a keynote from Neelima Parasker, CEO and founder of SnapIT Solutions, a Q&A with other women from STEM fields and a tour of MCC's Fab Lab.

Do you have STEM-related news to share with the Kansas City STEM community? We've created a new space to share news of interest to the local STEM community and we'd love your contributions. Just use the Submit Your News form on this page to let us know!
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