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Grant funding supports STEM engagement at Detroit youth recreation center

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S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center

FIRST STEM Community

To fill a critical gap left by the struggling Detroit public school system, the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center sought high-quality, mentor-driven STEM programs to excite and engage local students at its afterschool tutoring and recreation center. With funding from a FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant and support from the greater Detroit FIRST community, S.A.Y. (Sports. Academics. Youth.) Play added a robotics room, formed FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge teams, and hosted a tournament in its first year.

 

Background
The S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center is a state-of-the-art youth recreation center with the mission to “develop great readers and great people.” The no-cost center draws students, ages 8 to 18, from nearby Title I schools with after-school programs in football, basketball, music, and dance, which are available to the students after they complete one-hour tutoring sessions. To fill a critical gap left by the struggling Detroit public school system, the center sought quality STEM programs to excite and engage its students.
 

Bringing STEM into the recreation center
In 2016, S.A.Y. Play was awarded a FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant and introduced FIRST as part of its after-school programming. With the help of local community partners, the center added a robotics room and formed five FIRST teams, exciting students with meaningful opportunities to be a part of a team, learn how to build and program robots, and compete in tournaments.
 

More Than Robots
FIRST helps fill a void of mentor-driven STEM engagement opportunities in the community. In addition to building and programming robots, the S.A.Y. Play students are learning to collaborate to solve problems, present their ideas to others, and practice public speaking. The students love being on a robotics team. “My favorite part is we get to learn new things every day,” Tyler, age 8, says.

“Providing continuity and follow-through to the youth we serve is critical, as this is an often-missing component in their daily lives.” — Lena Pernell, Director, S.A.Y. Play


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