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FIRST team inspires STEM interest in underserved communities

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FIRST Robotics Competition Team

FIRST ® Robotics Competition team “CocoNuts” is creating change in Arizona by starting rural FIRST ® teams in and around their Flagstaff community, which is home to a population of white, Indigenous, and Hispanic/Latinx students, and inspiring students’ STEM interest in communities lacking access to in-depth programs through traditional school curriculum.


With grants from the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and a FIRST Equity and Access grant, the team is helping pilot new teams in dormitory schools on the Diné Reservation, hosting training sessions and workshops to support coaches and teams through the entire season. The CocoNuts travel often to different Indigenous schools, hosting full-day FIRST ® LEGO League workshops, and has gone as far as Navajo Mountain, Utah, to help a team build a robot. During pandemic restrictions, the team continued with virtual robotics workshops and online mentoring. “Seeing these young students get excited to build their own robot even through a screen was inspiring,” said Hannah, a recent FIRST alum.

The team was featured on as part of Build the Future powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, a joint initiative between FIRST, Disney and Lucasfilm to give FIRST teams around the world an opportunity to amplify their stories as forces for good. The CocoNuts shared their Star Wars-inspired mantra: “We are the CocoNuts, and we are the hope for the future!”

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