Community partners have stepped up to provide support for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s new FIRST LEGO League, a program that introduces STEM to children ages 4 to 16. Corporate and organization donations so far have included $1,750 from Walmart, $1,500 from Veridian Homes, $1,000 from the Rotary Club of Southwest Wisconsin and $250 from Kraemer North America. In addition to these monetary donations, Envision Tees has also agreed to be the FIRST LEGO League T-shirt sponsor. Five individual donors have contributed a combined amount of more than $400.
"Walmart is proud to be part of the Platteville community and strives to be a part of its development whenever possible," said Josh Ovsak, general manager of Platteville Walmart.
FIRST LEGO League is a collaborative opportunity in which UW-Platteville students serve as mentors to Platteville elementary and middle school students. The program not only benefits elementary and middle schoolers, by providing them the opportunity to engage in their first experience with STEM concepts and applications in order to build confidence and encourage collaboration and teamwork, but university student-mentors benefit by gaining experience working with children and learning to engage and channel their energy and excitement to solve problems.
“Lego League has been a fantastic way to connect UW-Platteville students with kids in the Platteville School District,” said Dr. Austin Polebitski, associate professor of civil engineering and UW-Platteville FIRST LEGO League advisor. “The interdisciplinary nature of our group of LEGO League mentors provides a neat way for students of different backgrounds and majors to meet one another, work together and become friends. Whether you are a biology, engineering, or education student, [being a FIRST LEGO League mentor] shows passion for giving back, being creative and the ability to work with different audiences – all important facets of a good person on their way to leading a successful career.”
There are currently 98 children participating in FIRST LEGO League. While no child is turned away, each participant is asked to cover a small registration fee for the cost of a basic Lego kit, but there are more costly expenses associated with the program, including competition fees, comprehensive Lego kits, student mentor time and travel.
“As a homebuilder, Veridian Homes is thrilled to assist in furthering STEM education in children by supporting UW-Platteville’s FIRST LEGO League, a fun and exciting way to introduce building and engineering at an early age,” said Chelsey Lammers, marketing manager for Veridian Homes.
FIRST LEGO League introduces science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children through fun, hands-on learning so that participants can gain real-world problem-solving experience through a guided, global robotics program, helping today’s students and teachers build a better future together.