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Girls in STEM Take Center Stage on “The Fosters"

When actress Emma Dumont (“Aquarius,” “Bunheads”), a FIRST Alumna and Mentor, arrived on the set of Freeform’s family drama “The Fosters” in June, she felt like she was at a real FIRST event. A FIRST STRONGHOLDSM playing field was recreated on set, and local FIRST Robotics Competition teams were setting up their pits – including her own team, Team 980 “The Thunderbots.”Fosters photo

Dumont was on set to guest-star in an episode of “The Fosters” centered on a regional FIRST Robotics Competition event. “It was really exciting to show my students and even my Mentors what I do at work every day,” Dumont said. “I also think it was a great opportunity to spread the message of FIRST.”

“The Fosters” recently wrapped up a multi-episode Season 4 plotline in which teen Foster siblings Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Jesus (Noah Centineo) join “Anchor Bytes,” a (fictional) FIRST Robotics Competition team, and Mariana deals with sexism from some of the male students on the team.

In the episode “Girl Code,” the Anchor Bytes compete in the FIRST STRONGHOLD Southern California Regional, where they meet Dumont’s character, “Sasha,” who leads all-female team “Baby Got Bots.” The Anchor Bytes and Baby Got Bots form an Alliance with an all-female drive team for the finals – and they win. “The plotline … is all about empowering females in STEM, and I think that’s really cool,” Dumont said.

Behind the scenes on The FostersNearly 100 real-life FIRST participants were a part of the episode, including FIRST Staff MC Blair Hundertmark and several local teams from Southern California: Team 207 “METALCRAFTERS,” Team 702 “Bagel Bytes,” Team 5510 “The Da Vinci Coders,” Team 980 “The Thunderbots,” Team 597 “The Wolverines,” Team 1836 “The MilkenKnights,” Team 4 “Team 4 ELEMENT,” Team 4201 “The Vitruvian Bots,” and Team 3476 “Code Orange.”

The storyline on “The Fosters” showed the Anchor Bytes team facing challenges many real FIRST Robotics Competition teams are familiar with, including passing weight inspection, fixing a robot that stalled during a match, and maintaining Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® under pressure.

Dumont said she thought the episode realistically depicted the energy of being at a FIRST Robotics Competition. “It’s a very specific, magical feeling that I can’t explain, that I think we all feel when we go,” she said. “This amazing, fiery sort of magic, and I felt like that was there on set that day, and I’m really glad it came through in the episode.”

The audience seemed to agree. Some FIRST teams held viewing parties and live-tweeted the episode on Twitter, and the FIRST storyline got many on social media talking. “The Fosters” creative team even shared some thoughts. Writer/Producer Wade Solomon (@WadeSolo34) tweeted, “So amazing working with the FIRST organization on this ep of #TheFosters! The kids on the teams were amazing!” (Scroll down to view more posts.)

Watch the full “Girl Code” episode of “The Fosters” at Freeform.


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