Since 2001, Team 812 made it our goal to spread FIRST to students from low-income families, underrepresented minority backgrounds, and females throughout San Diego. Our goal has been, and ALWAYS will be, to spread FIRST beyond just the engineering community. We want every student in our community to experience the values of entrepreneurship, communication, innovation, and gracious professionalism whether or not they are involved in a FIRST program. In light of this contagious enthusiasm to spread FIRST, Team 812 founded Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth (BUDDY), a peer mentorship program that engages disadvantaged youth in math/science.
Team 812 has helped Preuss teachers organize math/science tutoring programs for seven years. Our students stay after school everyday to help our teachers be able to tutor and mentor a group of thirty or more kids who are struggling in these disciplines. Students on Team 812 volunteer their time during the week in order to be able to reach out to and help students are who in need of guidance in their studies. In the Math and Science classrooms, we help our peers with their homework – ranging from Algebra to AP Statistics and Physics to AP Biology. Sometimes, Preuss students just need some place to go outside of home. Here, after school, they can work with students on our team to finish their homework, reeducate themselves about the material that was recently presented in class, or, sometimes, prepare for an upcoming exam.
With over fifteen hours of available tutoring each week, Team 812 really reaches out to each student in our school.
SATURDAY ENRICHMENT ACADEMY
For eight years, Team 812 has gotten up early on our coveted Saturday mornings to tutor our peers at Saturday Enrichment Academy (SEA), an academic support program for students on academic probation. Our team mentors students in the math and science tutoring programs. We help them with their homework, class assignments, lecture notes, and projects. We even help prepare them for upcoming exams by going over important materials, weeding out unnecessary information, and quizzing them on what they know and addressing the areas that they are weak on. At SEA, we even help teachers with creating lesson plans for the upcoming week, grade/record tests, and organize their classroom. Many of the students we have helped, especially Maria Salas, said that they “enjoyed the peer-to-peer environment because it was less intimidating and helped curve the learning process in a fun, easy-to-understand way.”
SAN DIEGO PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Annually, Team 812 organizes San Diego Robotics Day at local San Diego Public Libraries. This year, for Robotics Day, Team 812 held small FLL/FTC challenges throughout San Diego. We brought LEGO robots and even the ones use for the Tech Challenge to showcase at local libraries and had the students build their own. Students on our team showed them how to build strong, sturdy robots and had them compete against each other. In this competitive environment, hundreds of students became eager and enthused to build robots and have them literally run into each other. At the Serra Mesa Library, we showcased LEGO robots and explained to parents how they can get involved in FIRST. The library staff was so moved by our dedication to our community that they invited us back to run an entire summer course in robotics!
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS
Since 2005, Team 812 partnered with the San Diego Boys and Girls Clubs to organize monthly computer training workshops for students and parents. We worked with kids as young as six-years old and taught them how to use Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. We showed the kids how to effectively and appropriately use search engines in finding information for homework, school projects, or even a fun game to play when they are bored. This year, we introduced a new component to our computer literacy curriculum. In addition to help the kids develop their typing skills, we placed a heavy emphasis on Cyber-Bullying. We made a presentation to students, parents, and Boys and Girls Clubs employees about the effects of Cyber-Bullying and how it results from misuse of technology. We explained that this new technological culture is supposed to advance our community into the next generation, not stymie the growth and self-esteem of individuals because they are attacked online. By teaching these values of moral and ethics, we aimed to instill the essentialities of gracious professionalism in the kids.
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Since our rookie year, our goal has been to engage as many San Diego high schools in FIRST as possible. With the partnership of the San Diego Unified School District, we were able to do just that. Team 812 makes annual presentations to the School District and provide evidence of why local administrators should adopt FIRST into their curriculum or why FIRST should be available as an after school extracurricular program. Taking this on to a new level, we partner with the School District to run the Principals’ Forum at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. We invite principals and educations throughout San Diego to the Science Center and give them insight as to how FIRST has impacted students in San Diego and how FIRST can enhance the math/science curriculum at their school. We even partner with the School District to organize the annual Service Learning 101 Conference where we speak about our experiences, through FIRST, of changing the culture of our community into one that is more technological and cutting-edge.
VOLUNTEER SAN DIEGO
Since our conception, Team 812 has been generously supported by Volunteer San Diego (VSD). VSD provides our team extraordinary outreach opportunities that allows us to take FIRST participation countywide. Our goal to spread FIRST beyond just the engineering community was realized through San Diego who helps us apply FIRST skills, values, and even robots to their outreach projects and help us plan our own large-scale ones! Annually, VSD supports our team by providing mentors from their organization and from AmeriCorps Vista to guide our students towards organizing success youth-run service projects. Because of VSD, Team 812 has engaged over 2000 volunteers outside of our team in spreading the message of FIRST.
For five years, students on Team 812 have represented our team and the Preuss School in the youth council of Volunteer San Diego. Students Actively Volunteering for You (SAVY) Leaders Program attracts 40 students throughout San Diego County. With SAVY, Team 812 plans four large-scale service projects annual. In the fall, we help run the Hands-On San Diego restoration projects. Last year, we help painted the entire campus of Wilson Middle School! We also plan the Thanksgiving project that teaches young children in our community the importance of service and giving thanks. Last year, we held a Thanksgiving festival, filled with robots, food, and dancing at a local community center in City Heights. We are also involved in the facilitation of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and the Global Youth Service Day projects. In the past few years, Team 812 has been the primary “construction workers” for the restoration projects held at the Storefront Homeless Shelter for Teens, Rosa Parks Elementary, and Sudanese Community Center. Our students put their engineering skills to the test while gaining valuable insights into service learning.
This year, Team 812 is proud to partner with the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair (GSDSEF), a non-profit organization that organizes the annual regional branch of the Intel Science Competition in San Diego County. In addition to implementing science fair projects of our own, Team 812 assists our peers in researching, developing, and facilitating their projects. We are also working with GSDSEF to run the annual competition at the Balboa Park Activities Center in April 2008.
Our students serve as representatives on the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair Student Advisory Board (SAB). SAB assists the GSDSEF directors in recruiting and training judges and professional societies in scoring science fair projects. We also work with the county to engage students from every middle and high school in developing a project to be showcased at the fair. This year, we worked with over 5000 students in the county and screened thousands of projects for the fair. Selecting the highest caliber in the Junior (or Middle School) and Senior (or High School) division, we look forward to sending the most top notch projects to the statewide competition this April.
RECOGNITION FOR BUDDY
Recognizing our commitment to creating a technological culture within our community, BUDDY was awarded the 2007 Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the 2008 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Recently, we got a call from Claudia Atticot from TIME Magazine’s TIME for KIDS Publication and asked if they could write an article about BUDDY that would expose us to a national audience (obviously, we said yes!). We were so thrilled that people were finally beginning to recognize the impact we made in our hometown and are motivated to do even better.