Making STEM fun through FLL’s LEGO Robotics

LEGO RoboticsSTEM related subjects have garnered significantly more attention from education advocates and after school advocates. According to an article, Recognizing afterschool STEM’s impact by Anita Krishnamurthi, “the after-school community has a vital role, and can make a crucial difference in promoting science, technology, engineering and math or STEM, learning.” By learning about STEM related subject in school and after school youth will have a better understanding of these growing fields. After-school programs, with the help of STEM companies and universities give students a hands-on experience to the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, we have been opening more doors to these partnerships with STEM companies and professionals in the field in order to broaden the horizons of students and give them a glimpse of the future of a STEM career. By partnering with First LEGO® League, STEM professionals, working at local organizations like Boeing, expose students to new things by mentoring and encouraging them in STEM subjects through programs like First LEGO® League LEGO® Robotics. This program teaches kids math, science and technology through an applied learning experience and a fun competition.

LEGO RoboticsThe First LEGO® League (FLL) was designed to show kids how exciting science, technology and engineering can be as a career. The program gives youth a chance to take what they learn in a classroom setting and apply it through research, critical thinking and creativity. Ultimately FLL gives youth exposure to different areas of STEM, introducing them to new career opportunities that they might not have ever known about.

The FLL program includes a Challenge Project that teams compete in once a year with the help of at least one mentor/coach. The Challenge Project, given out in fall is comprised of three components, a Robot Game, Project and FLL Core Values. By the end of the year local teams come together for the local competition, with the winning team moving on to higher competitions.

LEGO RoboticsThe Robot Game allows teams to build and program an autonomous (without a remote control) LEGO® MINDSTORM® robot which can earn points by performing mission tasks such as navigating, capturing and transporting objects on a printed map called The Field.

The Project gives teams the chance to use their creativity to design a solution, or modify an existing solution, to a real-world problem. Past Projects have focused on nanotechnology and transportation.

LEGO RoboticsThe FLL Core Values promote team building behavior and cooperation between teams. During the competition, judges room the room and evaluate teams on the 8 core values. These values encourage team members to maintain a cooperative and team attitude which translates into daily life. Essentially the Robot Game and Project are what teams do whereas the FLL Core Values are how they do it.

Snohomish County Clubs, Alderwood Boys & Girls Club and Snohomish Boys & Girls Club have competed the last couple of years in the local LEGO® Robotics competition. Thanks to funding from the Nysether Family Foundation, these LEGO® Robotics Teams are growing quickly in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.

LEGO RoboticsAt a competition held at the Alderwood Boys & Girls Club during Spring Break, new teams from the South Everett/Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club and Bargreen Lake Stevens Boys & Girls Club participated for the first time while the Marysville Boys & Girls Club observed the competition in hopes of developing a team in the near future. The competition theme was soccer and teams had to develop robots that could make goals. With strong FLL Core Values and competence of the project, the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club won first place.

With the help of coaches like Snohomish Boys & Girls Club coach, Tom Newton, an employee from Boeing and experienced FLL coach, team members learn how to research and develop their own innovative ideas.

The upcoming competition, Nature’s Fury will begin in September and will focus on finding solutions when a natural disaster strikes.

LEGO Robotics


Celebrating March with Good Nutrition and Healthy Habits!

Every day we are bombarded with advertisements of unhealthy food, whether we see it on the TV, online, print adds or hear it on the radio, we are constantly being encouraged to consume unhealthy foods. Yes, these foods are so tasty but in the long run are they worth it? With such high fat content and little to no nutritional value it is hard to justify consuming these foods.

Developing healthy eating habits can also be a daunting task when living on a budget. Food, especially fresh and healthy food can be expensive. When trying to feed multiple mouths, it sometimes seems that the only option is to buy the cheaper unhealthy food. However, there are many resources that can help you develop healthy eating habits.

Kids Cafe-Tulalip Club Girls

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has announced March as National Nutrition Month® and is encouraging everyone to start ‘Eating Right, Your Way, Every day’. Their message aligns with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County’s message for developing healthy habits. Under the Boys & Girls Club Healthy Lifestyles initiative, adopting a healthy diet is part of the curriculum taught to Club members. Healthy Lifestyles staff teaches Healthy Habits to Club members and educates them on determining what good nutrition is and how to maintain and active lifestyle.

When things are busy it can be hard to find time to research quick and easy healthy meals and snacks but thanks to resources like and finding these helpful tips is much easier!

Download this free 25 Healthy Snack for Kids flyer from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month®


Club Life: Monroe Club Teens Beat the Clock in a Game of Word Jumble

Project Learn Game-Word Jumble-Monroe Club Teens

As Monroe Boys & Girls Club teens file into the Tech Room, Marta Miller, the Program Director, sets up papers and pens around the tables. Getting everyone’s attention by holding up the delicious prize of Jolly Ranchers, she announces that they will be playing a game of Word Jumble. After she divides the 15 teens into 3 teams she announces the first Word ‘UNINTERESTING”. The teens quickly scramble to find as many words as possible from the letters given.

This game is just one of the many that Marta encourages in the Project Learn Program for the Club memberss to engage them in high-yield learning activities. Word Jumble is designed to improve academic success for teens by encouraging them to think quickly while building their vocabulary.

Project Learn Game-Word Jumble-Monroe Club Teens

Club Life: Marysville’s I-5 Fun Run

I-5 Fun Run-group photo-MarysvilleFor this month’s High-Yield Learning Activity (HYLA) Christina Trader, Program Director at Marysville Boys & Girls Club shared an activity the Marysville Club members are doing. Twice a week the kids excitedly line up to let off some energy in the I-5 Fun Run. The kids run from Marysville to San Diego by running laps around the gym with each lap corresponding to a mile along the I-5 Corridor. When a kid reaches one of the 11 chosen cities along the I-5 Corridor they are given a prize based off of what that city is known for. In Seattle the kids get Almond Roca, in Portland they can choose a donut; in Eugene they get a taco, etc. Whoever reaches San Diego first wins first place and will be awarded with a surprise gift.

This activity not only teaches the kids healthy habits by getting them excited about running/walking on a regular basis but it also teaches them academic success through geography. The kids learn which cities are along the I-5 corridor and they also learn about the major city.

Christina is thrilled by how well this program is going and how eager the kids get every Tuesday and Thursday when it is time for the I-5 Fun Run. She hopes to pick another major route to do when the Club kids reach San Diego.

I-5 Fun Run-Marysville I-5 Fun Run-Marysville

A Giving Tree to Be Thankful For!


Snohomish Boys & Girls Club Members showing some holiday smiles.

Many kids in Snohomish County go without gifts during the holiday season. Their families are unable to give them the holiday that many others can have because they are struggling to make ends meet. This is where a collaboration of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County with Microsoft Employees comes in. For the past 7 years, Microsoft Employees have included the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County on their Giving Tree. These trees are put up in many Microsoft buildings and decorated with information tags of potential recipients from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, Rainer Vista Boys & Girls Club, Friends of Youth, Senior Services of King County and Hopelink.


Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club Members showing their snowflakes.

Throughout the months of November and December, Microsoft Employees take the tags and return the requested gifts to the trees. Clubs from Snohomish and Island Countries pick up the gifts mid-December and distribute them to the Club member parents.


Snohomish Boys & Girls Club members showing off their holiday hats.

This year we had a total of 3,500 tags on trees throughout the Microsoft buildings. By mid-December we received more than 1,000 gifts for kids in need! The support from Microsoft Employees is tremendous and Club kids feel the wonderful impact it has during the holiday season.

The program is dear to Snohomish Boys & Girls Club Unit Director, Marci Volmer, who organizes the project for the Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County. As her favorite time of year, Marci shares how much the gifts mean to Club kids and their families. For Marci, the program is special because, as she says, “We get to see the other side of {the Microsoft Employees} gift…we get to be the one that hands it over and sees the impact that it makes and it is very rewarding.” 


The Everett Boys & Girls Club member’s Christmas crafts.