By Mary O’KEEFE
An Engineering Expo is being hosted by CVHS 589 Falkons Robotics at Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS) on Oct. 29.
“We are excited to invite [all] to attend our inaugural 2023 Engineering Expo: Gears Gadgets and Goosebumps, a public STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math] focused event for families,” according to 589 Falkons Robotics.
“589 Falkon Robotics met with State Senator [Anthony] Portantino in July to discuss where there may be a lack of STEM support in the surrounding communities. The group came up with the idea to share STEM through this large expo with hands-on activities,” said Jacob Poole, Falkon mentor and CVHS teacher.
The Engineering Expo is geared (no pun intended) to students in grades kindergarten through eight who are interested in STEM. Students can be from anywhere; several from Fontana have already signed up to attend.
“Our goal with this event is to expose more students to STEM and [demonstrate] how easy it is to become an engineer,” Poole said. “Through our hands-on activities and professional booths, students hopefully will see what options are out there.”
Some students may feel for one reason or another they are not suited for STEM. Chris Moore, the CEO of the global youth education nonprofit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) wrote in Education Week that he had dreamed of becoming an astronaut or marine biologist but while in middle school one of his teachers told him he didn’t belong in STEM and that he would never be successful in those fields. He added that he had no idea why the teacher thought he wasn’t “cut out” for science but it affected his entire life. So he pivoted to subjects he felt comfortable in, like English, the arts, marketing and communications. He never dared to challenge himself to try STEM.
“Childhood through adolescence is a critical period for students’ confidence-building and identity formation. It’s also a time when the adults around them can –often accidentally – send young people the message that they aren’t good enough because of their gender, race, identity, orientation or family background. These moments that can instill doubt have the potential to damage students’ self-worth for a lifetime,” he wrote in that article.
According to FIRSTinspires.org, a 2022 survey found that 29% of kids don’t feel smart enough to join a STEM-related program. This comes despite 54% of students stating they did or would want to join a STEM or robotics extracurricular program to learn a new skill. It appears more needs to be done to help students acquire asset-based, resilience and growth mindsets and reinforce kindness, compassion, respect and trust. Adults can play an active role by focusing on allyship and helping students uncover their true talents and passions.
FIRST plays a vital role in 589 Falkons. Each year the nonprofit offers a competition where a game is described and students build a robot to play that game and later compete with teams from all over the world. Falkons Robotics compete in these FIRST events.
Poole and his Falkon team have participated, and hosted, many scrimmage events with other teams as well as mentoring LegoLeague Robotics at elementary schools.
“This is our first large-scale event. We’re very excited and are looking forward to hosting this [event] every year. We appreciate the support from our sponsors to help make this event possible and free for all participants,” Poole said.
The event will open at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. at CVHS at 2900 Community Ave. in La Crescenta. For those who would like to come and join in a day of STEM fun, which includes engineering challenges and robot demonstrations, there will be food and concessions available for purchase.
Tickets are free but signing up is required. Go to cvrobots.com/expo and sign up through Eventbrite.
589 Falkons Robotics appreciates the support of State Senator Anthony Portantino, J’s Maintenance, CV Lions Club, Friends of Falkons Robotics and CVHS.