Argosy Foundation grant to jump start
FIRST expansion in KC region via loaner kits

A $120,000 grant from the Argosy Foundation will allow FIRST Kansas City to reach more youth from underserved schools and communities through an innovative program that will provide rookie teams with loaner robotics kits and mentoring from veteran teams in the community. 

The goal is to start five FIRST Robotics Competition teams, 20 FIRST Tech Challenge teams, 20 FIRST LEGO League teams and 20 FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams each year, beginning in the 2018 season. By assisting with equipment and expertise across the spectrum of FIRST programs, teams in underserved communities will receive the support they need for long-term success.
Kansas City FIRST will collaborate with Oklahoma FIRST, which has used this model successfully over the past year. Stay tuned for more details as the program develops.

Reminder: FLL registration deadline is Friday, Sept. 23

All teams who want to compete in Kansas City-region FLL qualifiers MUST begin the ANIMAL ALLIES team registration online by Friday, Sept. 23. This is two weeks earlier than we have closed in the past. PLEASE NOTE THIS CHANGE. Please make sure your team name and coach contact information are accurate in the FIRST Team Registration. See full details about the upcoming FIRST LEGO League season in Kansas City here:

KC Engineering Zone and KC STEM hub to grow with an assist from the Sunderland Foundation

Thanks to community support, the Kansas City Engineering Zone soon will expand to include a fully equipped computer lab, a robotics practice field and a modern collaborative learning space for students and teachers. The expansion at 4825 Troost Ave. also includes office space for KC STEM Alliance and co-working office space for other local STEM organizations. 
A $50,000 grant from the Sunderland Foundation to cover asbestos abatement and a portion of the construction costs will allow the work to begin. The KC EZ opened in January 2015, beginning as a build and meeting space for two urban robotics teams. A third team joined for the 2016 season and the space has housed numerous STEM events, from all-girls app camps to professional development opportunities for teachers. Others assisting with the expansion include JE Dunn, US Engineering, BNIM and Mark One.

Girls Who Code Club

One of the newest activities taking place at the KC EZ is a Girls Who Code Club, which launched this week. Free for girls in grades 6 through 12, the club is sponsored by KC STEM Alliance and spearheaded by high school student Ruby Rios, a girls app camp veteran who wants to expand coding opportunities for girls in Kansas City. The club will meet from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays throughout the school year. It's not too late to join! For information, contact Laura Bauer.

Collaborating for results

Although construction on the KC EZ expansion has yet to begin, collaboration and co-working is already underway:

SITE KC: Believe It. Build It. Be It.

Social Impact Technology and Engineering (SITE) is among the first local STEM organizations to co-locate with the KC STEM Alliance. The nonprofit dedicated to connecting urban youth with solid job opportunities used connections from KC STEM Alliance to expand its externship program to include two new school districts, North Kansas City and Independence.

The SITE Externship Program, known as SEP, is designed to complement a school’s STEM education classes with substantial real-life field experiences in high-tech manufacturing. On Sept, 15, 50 students from seven high schools and seven educators gathered for an incredible day of hands-on experiences and a tour at the General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City.

“One of our key objectives with the SITE Externship Program is to assist educators in inspiring and teaching our youth about the incredible career opportunities that exist within the advanced manufacturing industry,” said SITE founder Mark Irvin (pictured above). 


Two years ago, SITE offered Kansas City its first Manufacturing Day event as part of a national movement to promote hi-tech manufacturing careers. Local high school students experienced firsthand the high-growth career opportunities in their communities. The project was so successful for both industry and education that SITE continues to build these links to pique students' interest and understanding of this important work. Learn more at

Aspirations in Computing Award: Apply now for 2017!

Calling all coders, hackers and high school women in tech plus the educators who support them! The National Center for Women in Technology is a non-profit community of more than 650 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to correct the imbalance of gender diversity in technology and computing. Missouri-Western Kansas event coordinator Judy Mullins also is a new KC STEM Alliance office co-worker.
NCWIT's Award for Aspirations in Computing honors high school women who are active and interested in computing and technology, and encourages them to pursue their passions. This multi-tiered competition includes recognition at the national level (sponsored by Bank of America) and at the local level (sponsored by Microsoft). The organization also awards prizes to computing educators. Applications are due Nov. 7. Learn more. 

Garmin's Sunita Lavin to share passion for STEM as a Centurion

Long-time FIRST and KC STEM Alliance volunteer Sunita Lavin will bring a STEM focus to the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's newest class of Centurions. The leadership class of 2018 includes 42 young professionals who will spend the next two years in a rigorous, self-directed program studying the community in which they live and work, investigating subjects such as transportation and infrastructure, poverty in Kansas City, law and order, and the life sciences. Centurions also spend a substantial amount of time on community service projects.
 KC STEM Alliance is supporting Sunita’s participation in the program by sponsoring a portion of the tuition.

Mentor Makers pilot launches with high school focus

Mentor Makers is a KC STEM Alliance pilot program designed to connect female students and young professionals with STEM professionals during some of the critical junctures in the journey to a fulfilling career in STEM. The program offers training, support and guidance to STEM professionals interested in mentoring and offers students and young professionals regular access to mentors who can support and guide them. 

We are accepting 20 mentors for the high school track, who will operate in pairs to support groups of 5 to 8 young women. The college track will match 15 mentors with 30 mentees and the early career track will match 15 mentors with 15 mentees. Both the college and career tracks will launch in January.

Learn more about program details at If you’re ready to sign up as a mentor or mentee, get started by contacting Marian McClellan at or 630-659-7748. 

Project Lead The Way

Fall workshop kicks off Senior Capstone Projects

About 300 students from 30+ schools descended upon Burns & McDonnell on Sept. 13 for the Project Lead The Way Senior Capstone Project Fall Workshop. Their mission: To select and define the problems they would like to solve during their senior Engineering Design & Development projects. After opening remarks from local entrepreneur Alex Altomare, students broke into small groups to discuss their initial ideas with mentors from local industry partners.

The event also included the chance to delve into the details for local competitions for student projects and a look at new tools and resources, including Pear DeckHatchPad and LRNG KC.

Thanks to the 30 mentors from local engineering and technology firms for spending time sharing your time and talent with these students. We look forward to seeing the results of their work at the Senior Showcase on April 18 at Union Station.

If you haven't yet explored Kansas City's new online learning platform for youth, LRNG, click here! It's a great space for creating STEM experiences if your organization offers programming and a great place to send students if you're a teacher or youth leader. Stay up to date by subscribing to LRNG's newsletter.
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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