It's like a Little Free Library, but with STEM kits! How a Howell robotics team is inspiring others

'We want to let people know about robotics and all the career fields it can help you in.'
Posted at 10:41 AM, Dec 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 13:45:49-05

HOWELL, Mich. (WXYZ) — In Howell, robotics is all the rage — and the teams keep growing.

"Between our two middle schools, 75 students [were] interested in joining the team, which it was a very good problem to have," said April VanderPlas, mentor of team KRASH.

There’s something about STEM that has that cool factor. Just ask the FTC team KRASH — that stands for Kids, Robotics and Science of Howell.

"I just love the engineering that goes into it and the friends it helps you make. And ... it's just a great community to be a part of," said KRASH teammate Johnathan Gee.

Sure, the kids learn how to design, build and operate robots, but VanderPlas says there’s so much more to it.

"I mean, these kids are learning how to be part of a team, how to work through problems as a team, problem solving from an engineering standpoint, and they're also learning speaking skills," said VanderPlas.

And marketing skills.

"We're all about spreading the word of FIRST. So how do we get more people involved in first robotics?" said VanderPlas.

That's where the KRASH team STEM Box in downtown Howell comes in. It’s a twist on a classic community-focused project.

"So it came from the Little Free Libraries that we often see on the side of the road and just wanting to get people involved in FIRST and learning about STEM," said KRASH teammate Bella Tate.

Inside the box are free STEM kits, geared toward elementary school students.

"Each kit contains like simple materials to create the STEM kit, and it helps you, like, learn more about that," said Tate.

The team's been switching them out every few weeks, and this next kit is extra festive.

"We decided we needed a Christmas-themed STEM kit ... to build the tallest shelf for your elf," said VanderPlas.

Maverick Hager, another KRASH teammate, explains how it works: "your goal to stick toothpicks and gumdrops together to make the tallest shelf and then set your elf on the top to make sure it stays stable."

KRASH isn’t just stopping at the local level, they’re spreading the word on their Instagram page @teamkrash_15465 and connecting with teams all across the globe.

"We've reached out to international teams to invite them to make their own STEM boxes and place them out in their community," said Tate. "Spreading the word about the FIRST community is definitely one of our biggest goals. We want to let people know about robotics and all the career fields it can help you in."

The KRASH STEM box is right in front of Frontal Lobe in downtown Howell, so take your kid, grab a kit and let the magic happen.

Frontal Lobe
110 E Grand River Ave
Howell, MI 48843