From an idea to a robot, a classroom to a competition, and from a small school to the world, Team 2056 has made it our goal to inspire people around the world using the vision of FIRST. For the last thirteen years, Team 2056 has created a foundation through helping local schools and our community and used it to make an impact in over 30 countries. As a team, our goal is not only to inspire and transform our own students but to revolutionize the culture of our community, country, and world, elevating the people within them by increasing the prevalence and importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The first target in going global with the message of FIRST was our home, Orchard Park Secondary School. Before we could create change on a larger scale we had to make this shift in our own home. Through team charity events, depictions of our past robots in various murals, and in school events, we have shown our entire school the importance of STEM. Over the last six years, Team 2056 has put together teams to fundraise for The Inside Ride, a bike riding charity organization that travels through Canada raising money to support cancer victims, and we have raised over $14,000. The passion for STEM within our school has grown so much that last year a robotics course was created to allow Grade 11 and 12 students to earn a high school credit and gain authentic, real-world experience focused on robotics and STEM. Our school was only the beginning, acting as the groundwork that would allow us to spread FIRST at a greater level. The next step was community recognition, an important factor in incorporating STEM into as many lives as possible. Beginning 8 years ago, our team began holding robotics workshops for local elementary schools, libraries, and community centers. These workshops familiarize elementary school students with different aspects of STEM and robotics, igniting a drive to want to learn more. In addition to these workshops, we host events for students in the Gifted Program where we can share our knowledge with much younger students and give them the chance to test what they know. In order to gain greater exposure for STEM and FIRST, we hold a Girls in Tech day where students are able to tour our school and are shown different aspects of STEM fields. Our team makes a specific effort to focus on motivating young women to participate in STEM with this girl-focused day, to combat the notion that engineering is for boys only. Creating a passion for STEM within our community using these initiatives will result in a growing culture change as the importance of engineering grows among us. In addition to our annual robotics days for the last three years we have also created and hosted a robotics tournament which has doubled in size, now with 28 schools participating. Students spend months preparing to compete, receiving any assistance they might require from us, and then compete just like an official tournament. Our community, however, is not just our own team but is also the ones around us. As a team our goal has always been to elevate others and this includes the teams we compete against. Our alumni have gone on to mentor five FRC teams and assist in mentoring another three FRC teams. Additionally, we have been able to share our knowledge and expertise by providing other teams with practice fields and by implementing robotics programs within their schools. The strong base that has allowed Team 2056 to go global is thanks to our many amazing sponsors. We make sure to always give back to them as well as our community. Once the competition season has finished, our team celebrates with a dinner, during which we reflect on our past season and invite our sponsors to show what we were able to accomplish with their help. During the off-season, to show our support, our team members volunteer at various events including the Winona Peach Festival. In addition to giving back to our sponsors we do our best to give back to our community as well. Our team annually gathers and recycles old electronics, collected 6000 lbs of non-perishable food with our local volunteer firefighters, and donated 1310 lbs of gently used clothing to the Canadian Diabetes Association. This past Christmas, our team paired up with our sponsor the Stoney Creek Rotary Club in the Santa Claus parade. With our robot the team was able to spread the word of FIRST and increase community involvement and excitement about robotics. We had now seen our school, community, and city be impacted by the work we do and by the importance of STEM, but we wanted to bring the vision we shared with FIRST to a greater platform. Three years ago we got just that opportunity. In the Spring of 2016, not only 2056 but FIRST was given the chance to be featured on the Rick Mercer Report through CBC. Broadcasted throughout Canada and viewed by over one million people, Team 2056 was given the opportunity to be a headline segment on the show. The television segment highlighted what FIRST is, and the impact it has on our students. During the week, Rick Mercer met with our team, explored our facilities, and even attended a competition. Due to this segment, the FIRST message was spread to one million people all over Canada, which we can now use as a connecting point with many people when sharing FIRST and STEM. As a team so fortunate, from our local, national and FIRST community, we wanted to share all of our unique insights and experiences that we have gained over the past years and go beyond our community. Through Facebook, Twitter and Youtube we are able to share the impact FIRST has on us and make that same impact on others. Our posts have been viewed in 13 different countries and inspired over 8,300 people. To further our initiative, in 2016 we initiated the 2056 Ways to Inspire Conference to share our knowledge in all things FIRST to teams all around Canada and even the world. The event contains presentations targeted toward students, parents, mentors, and teachers. From Tyler Holtzman’s design practices to a presentation on the Chairman’s Award by Team 4039, every year we gather one of the most distinguished groups of presenters assembled at any FIRST event. This year was our third year holding the conference. There were several recurring presentations, and eight new seminars covering programming, awards, elementary school robotics, and mechanical design. To ensure that all have access to this information, all presentations from the last three years have been made available on our website. In the past three years we have reached 550 members of our local and FIRST community and by doing these conferences we hope that we elevate those around us and create a broader community that shares excitement for STEM. As our goal of going global started to become reality, our team’s passion for STEM was acknowledged at the 2017 Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Conference in Detroit, when we were asked to be FIRST Canada’s representative along with FRC Team 862 (Lightning Robotics). Students were able to speak to eight governors and two premiers, including Ontario’s former Premier, Kathleen Wynne. Students from each team were asked to share their experiences in FIRST to the delegates and showcase how STEM has affected their life. In addition to our passion to elevate those around us our ability as a FIRST team has also opened opportunities to both new experiences and new places. This year at FIRST Global’s inaugural competition, Team 2056 was asked to represent Canada. Although the purpose of the trip was to compete in the event, our team saw a much greater opportunity. Over 175 nations would be attending this event and it was our best chance to truly go global. One of our team’s main focuses while attending was aiming to set up connections to allow for future endeavors. One of the connections made was with the Cayman Islands who have now contacted us, inviting our lead mentor, Stan Hunter, to go and mentor there. This opportunity was one of our greatest yet as we truly got to make our names known around the world in hopes of furthering and improving the global community that strives for a global culture immersed in STEM. We started small, inspiring and transforming those within our own school, creating a strong foundation from which we could elevate on a global scale. In order to reach that height, we needed supports which were created through relationships within our community, by implementing programs and events that aimed to create culture change and prove to future generations the importance of STEM. With this strong base, we could reach further, across the country running highly influential events and speaking to the masses in an effort to make a national impact on how our country views STEM. But our country was never the end goal. Since our inception, we have strived to spread the message of FIRST to people all over the world. We became STEM ambassadors for our country participating in international conferences and events as well as ambassadors to new countries. The determination and passion of our team has built our foundation and erected supports that are crucial in our efforts to elevate everyone around us. Team 2056 knows that by ourselves we cannot impact and inspire everyone, but that together we can, so we will continue to elevate our communities as we go global and change the world around us.
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