USRA STEMaction Center Open for FIRST Teams

STEMaction-v03med (640x206)Our new USRA STEMaction Center is now open for business.  FIRST teams can come for practice time on our FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST LEGO League playing fields. The STEMaction Center is located at 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 (map).

We are open on Wednesdays from 4pm – 8pm, and we are working to set additional times (see calendar).  Please complete this Reservation form to request use of the facility during our open times or on other dates.  While you can walk in during our open times, we cannot guarantee access to the practice fields unless your team has a reservation.

Any FIRST team using the facility must be accompanied by at least one adult team mentor for every 4 students attending.  The adult team mentors must have passed FIRST‘s Youth Protection Screening and must agree to a facility-use waiver on behalf of their team.

USRA STEMaction Center Preview and Town Hall, Nov. 12, 2015

STEMaction-v03med (640x206)Maryland FIRST team mentors are invited for a first look at the new USRA STEMaction Center on Thursday, November 12, 2015, from 5-7pm.  This 25,000 square foot facility will soon open with FRC, FTC and FLL practice fields, and room to grow.  The Center is located at 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21064. It’s a game changer for our FIRST community in Maryland.

Have a look at the space between 5-6pm, then join us for an open town hall discussion between 6-7pm.  We’ll discuss how we can best use this facility and our new partnership with the Universities Space Research Association over the course of this season and the next several years.

The event is free, but space is limited.  Please register here:

Please note, a celebratory ribbon cutting is now scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11, 2015.  Invited guests, dignitaries and the public will be welcome at that event.  Please save the date and watch for more details.

Maryland STEM Festival and FIRST

MSF logo-elementsThe Maryland STEM Festival is coming November 6-15, and Maryland FIRST teams are represented at a number of events, including:


BAA Education Day for FRC Teams, Oct. 24, 2015

The Baltimore Area Alliance hosts its annual Education Day for FIRST Robotics Competition teams.  This full day of seminars offers a great chance for students and mentors from any area FIRST Robotics Competition teams to get ready for the new season.

Where: JHU Applied Physics Lab, Kossiakoff Center, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel, MD 20723

When: Oct. 24, 2015 from 8:30am – 4pm

Register here:

Event Flyer: BAA Ed Day Flyer 2015

FLL Coaches Roundtable, Oct. 21, 2015

PrintLooking for advice on running your FLL team? Want to share your experiences as an FLL coach? Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned coach, come to the FLL Coaches’ Roundtable. We’re organizing an event for coaches to meet other coaches and learn from one another. In the spirit of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition, share ideas, questions, and experiences.

We’ll cover any topics related to FLL and the Trash Trek season. Please comment on what you’d like to discuss. Some ideas for topics include:

Questions or concerns about the Trash Trek rules Managing Team Dynamics How to help your team with programming Getting help on guiding the team to a project Core Values and Team Exercises

When: Oct. 21, 2015 from 7pm – 8:30pm

Where: FIRST @ United Therapeutics, 1110 Spring St, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Free event, register here.

Ft. Meade Alliance STEM Family Night, Nov. 4, 2015

stem-family-night2The Ft. Meade Alliance hosts its annual STEM Family Night on November 4, 2015 at the Arundel Mills Mall Roundhouse Food Court from 6-8pm.  This free event gives local elementary and middle school students — and their parents — a chance to experience the amazing world of science, technology, engineering and math! Check out many displays, including teams from Power Hawks Robotics from South River High School. More info here:  STEM-Family-Night-Flyer_Students20151.pdf.

“SlingShot” Screening and FIRST Robotics, Nov. 11, 2015

SlingShot docLearn about FIRST robotics programs for K-12 students, meet local teams, and see an award-winning documentary about FIRST founder Dean Kamen’s water purification system, SlingShot.  This free, informative evening is presented by Maryland FIRST, STEMaction, and United Therapeutics in the new FIRST @ United Therapeutics location in Silver Spring.  A Maryland STEM Festival event!

When: November 11, 2015, 5:00 – 7:30pm

Where: FIRST @ United Therapeutics, 1110 Spring Street, Silver Spring, MD 20901

Cost: Free, but seating is limited.  Please register here.

Now Hiring: STEMaction Program Assistant

STEMaction-v03med (640x206)STEMaction is now hiring a part-time, paid Program Assistant to help organize our Maryland Junior FIRST LEGO League program and maintain our Maryland FIRST contact management system.  Please see the STEMaction Program Assistant Position Description for more details.

We would like to fill the position quickly, so candidates please indicate interest by October 1, 2015.

2015-2016 Maryland FIRST Seasons Underway

MDFIRST Programs Logo

Happy FIRST New Year!  Our seasons for three of the four Maryland FIRST programs are underway. And for FRC, we’re getting ready for the new FIRST Chesapeake District season in 2016.

Junior FIRST LEGO League: Waste Wise For ages 6-9, Junior FIRST LEGO League offers a great way to get started with FIRST and STEM activities.  This season’s Waste Wise challenge gets kids thinking about trash as teams put together a poster project and LEGO model of their research.  Teams can start anytime from August through April, and we’re planning to hold more than a dozen Jr.FLL Expos in Maryland, starting in December.

FIRST LEGO League: Trash Trek The 2015 FLL Trash Trek challenge gets teams (ages 9-14) thinking in new ways about trash: are there better ways to recycle, reuse, or recover the things we consume? Team registration will close by the end of September. so you need to hurry if you want to start a team this season.  Our All-Coaches Meeting on Oct. 3 at UMBC will include the unveiling of our 20+ Maryland FLL Qualifier tournaments.

FIRST Tech Challenge: RES-Q The new FIRST RES-Q game, unveiled Sep. 12, features mountain climbing, ziplines and debris clearing tasks for the robots and teams (ages 12-18) to conquer.  Our Maryland/DC season will have eight Qualifier tournaments and a new Championship venue.  Now is the time to register new teams!

FIRST Robotics Competition Maryland FRC teams are now forming and getting ready for our off-season Battle O’ Baltimore on September 26.  This is a big new season as FRC shifts into a District competition model across Maryland, DC and Virginia with seven District events feeding into a new FIRST Chesapeake District Championship in April. The new season officially begins on January 12, 2016 with our FRC Kickoff.

Drive 4UR Community Event, Oct. 10, 2015

FPRB_12D4URC_4C_R01Maryland FIRST, STEMaction and Academy Ford are holding a Drive 4UR Community event on October 10, 2015 from 9am – 2pm at Capitol Technology University (11301 Springfield Rd, Laurel, MD 20708).

This fundraiser helps support Maryland FIRST Tech Challenge teams that went to the FIRST Championships last season, and helps all Maryland/DC FTC teams through the STEMaction Grant pool.  Academy Ford in Laurel is bringing new Ford cars to test drive, and each drive translates into $$ for our teams.

We will have a car wash, food and robotics fun for the family from 9am – 2pm.  The public is welcome.  Anyone 18 or over with valid license is eligible to drive (one per family).  You can reserve a time slot in advance by registering here, but walk-ins are welcome, too.  See our flyer.

Watch for more information on special workshops and meetings for FIRST Tech Challenge teams and tournament hosts at this event.