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In a world where students are persuaded to idolize unrealistic objectives, how can they break the barriers of expectation? How can the population gain & retain applicable knowledge? How can this influx of information be used to benefit and mitigate global issues like natural disasters, disease, poverty, discrimination, war, the lack of education and clean drinking water, world hunger, human rights, and climate change. How can leading students to discovering their destiny, rather than imposing it upon them, affect society and the way youth contribute to it? “LASER Builds Robots to Build…Kids”For the past nine years, FIRST has inspired LASER to build; whether a robot, integrity, or a better future for the infinite number of tomorrows. By being the inaugural FIRST team in Central Missouri and paving the road to STEM in our region we have overcome many obstacles like the lack of industry and professional mentors in our rural community. However, LASER succeeded in engaging new members, recruiting professional mentors, and making STEM careers a reality for team members. The program now encompasses 1 FRC, 4, FTC, 12 FLL and 14 FLLJr supported by 42 mentors. 1 in every 14 students in the district is involved on a LASER team, leading to 250 individuals to embark on a lifelong journey of learning and perseverance.LASER Builds Robots to Build…InspirationLASER promotes STEM via FIRST on a community, state, national, and international level through presentations, parent involvement, community service, and mentoring/volunteering opportunities. Our team started their rookie season with 21 students and 3 mentors. This year, 3284 includes 26 students, 15 mentors, and numerous involved parents. 3284 has reached a 57% to 43% male to female ratio through grades 9 to 12.  Furthermore, the impact of participation in the FIRST LASER Robotics program is showcased in the fact that over 90% of LASER graduates have pursued STEM careers. Our consistent growth is a result of the LASER FTC, FLL, and FLLJR programs which have laid a strong foundation for continued growth and sustainability. LASER also recognizes that youth, regardless of socioeconomic status, have potential to impact the world. Over 56% of the district’s students are involved in the free and reduced lunch programs. Through grants, LASER is able to provide an afterschool meal for all members during pre-season practices and the 30 week days of LASER Builds Robots to Build…Opportunity LASER members have dedicated themselves to promoting STEM and FIRST in order to share the experiences offered by FIRST. LASER has started 8 FRC teams and 58 other FIRST teams and mentored over a 100 teams, since our team’s founding. LASER builds opportunities by providing events for communities to experience FIRST and its impact. In 2017 LASER was named the Central Missouri FIRST affiliate for FLL and FLLJR. This has allowed LASER to mentor and help start additional teams in MO. LASER over the years has started many teams by inviting groups to offseason events and letting them dive into the world of FIRST.  We provided just that for teams like 6817 10! and team 6424 the Stealth Panthers. After furnishing them a LASER student coach and our practice robot to drive with in the competition, they were Hooked! We continually mentor these teams through Skype, email and site visits.In addition to the development of state teams, 3284 has also started and mentors 2 international teams. We sent LEGO EV3 Mindstorm kits and the 2015 FLL challenge with mentors to Guadalajara, Mexico and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. During their founding we contacted these teams through Skype and email. LASER has also reached out to many teams in order to make travel as easy and cost efficient as possible. We have previously sponsored and FTC team from Shanghai and FRC team 5654 from Israel by allowing them to borrow batteries, tools and other materials that would have been expensive to ship. Another way LASER grows their practice of gracious professionalism and coopertition is by helping FTC team 8856 when intense weather sent them home from out Mid-Mo FTC qualifier. One of our members empathized with the team and graciously agreed to drive their robot for the throughout the rest of the competition independently, even though the robot utilized two controllers and he drove without a coach. He ended the competition the fourth alliance captain,and continues to prove that everyone wins with coopertition.  LASER Builds Robots to Build…Engagement and SponsorshipLASER is furthering our outreach by getting an increasing number youth, community members, and local organizations involved in FIRST by hosting events, camps, and trainings. Our FLL and FTC programming camps, Mid Mo FTC camp, and FLL coaches trainings help us raise interest and start new teams. The FLL coaches training meeting teaches coaches how to build and program sensors regarding the EV3 robot. The camp also presents the fundamentals for starting a team and the ethos of FIRST. Prior to 3284 becoming the central Missouri FIRST Lego League & FIRST Lego League Jr. affiliate we hosted of 4 FTC qualifiers, 3 FLL qualifiers, and an FLLJR Expo. After becoming the affiliate in 2017, LASER hosted the Central Missouri FLL Championship and assisted the set up and running of the Rolla FLL qualifier and the Queen City regional. This holiday season, the Camdenton Optimist Club partnered with LASER through Christmas tree sales. Parents and students dedicated 483 hours to working the lot and selling the trees. The Optimist Club donated 100 percent of the profit to LASER; totaling approximately $3,700. Working with our local business’ will continue to be prioritized in LASER’s ethos.For the last 7 years, LASER has continued to further FIRST and STEM by co-hosting Show Me Robotics at the Missouri State Fair. LASER utilizes this opportunity by promoting FIRST through the FRC competition, FTC and FLL rumbles, and FLLJR Showcase. In addition, all 4 LASER progressions have been featured at the Ozark Maker Faire alongside industrial and contemporary companies.LASER Builds Robots to Build…the Impact of FIRST One of LASER’s favorite traditions is to share the mission of FIRST in our state. 3284 does this by requesting that our governor proclaim April to be FIRST Robotics Month in Missouri. Since 2012, the governor has annually fulfilled our wish. Furthermore, all of the LASER progressions annually represent FIRST at the MO STEM day at the Capitol. In addition to working on advocacy within our state legislature, we decided that we needed the think broader. In 2017, LASER traveled to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to participate in the FIRST National Advocacy Conference (NAC) to talk to our state representatives about after school funding and how much it is needed in underserved areas where most of the students in afterschool programs rely on these programs for regular meals, and support. We expressed the need for money to be set aside not only for afterschool programs, but for STEM related programs like FIRST. Students need access to an outlet where they can freely explore their scientific inquiries and gain access to real world experience and problem solving.  To further the access of FIRST teams, LASER has taken the challenge of making FIRST a recognized high school activity through MSHSAA. This will create more opportunity for Missouri schools to start FIRST robotics teams and for existing teams to gain more support from their schools. LASER has given more than 200 presentations to community members, teachers, students, administrators, and elected officials like state and national legislators and senators to share the FIRST core values. Some of LASER’s most impactful presentations include the 2015 World Championship VIP Dinner, MO interface Conference, MO DESE Afterschool Association, TechitOut Conference, and the upcoming 2017 World Championship presentation about FIRST in public schools with Vinnie Rodino and Don Bossie. LASER’s long list of media coverage contributes greatly to our efforts to expand STEM and FIRST. The Missouri School Boards Association showcased the LASER program in a video that was sent to every Missouri school board member and over 600 superintendents. LASER 3284 was also featured in a FIRST case study for out rapid growth, sustained progression of programs and outreach to grow FIRST in rural areas. LASER Builds Robots to Build…the Knowledge that FIRST Is More Than RobotsNot only locally, but internationally, LASER has prioritized community service and initiating relationships. We discern that our mentors are more than instructors, our sponsors are more than financial assistance, and our parents are more than our biggest fans. In fact, over 20,000 volunteer hours have been dedicated by LASER parents through FIRST volunteering opportunities. Furthermore, our sponsor Electrovert: Electronic Assembly Equipment donates for every hour that their employees mentor the team. LASER consistently establishes and expands relationships though fundraisers, participation in community events, and local presentations.Because our community supports us, LASER gives back by donating a variety of resources to local organizations. LASER previously supported Citizens Against Domestic Violence (CADV) by decorating and stocking a children’s room at the shelter with games, books, and toys. We also participated in their Chili cook off and demoed an FLL robot that delivered chili! The power of the penny fundraiser we hosted provided canned goods to stock a local food bank. In the ethos of Recycle Rush, LASER hosted a community wide low-cost electronics recycling drive. Finally, our well established tradition of safety inspired us to share water safety in our local elementary schools. Because Lake of the Ozarks is the third most dangerous waterway in the country, LASER partnered with Missouri State Highway Patrol to give life jackets to 400 kindergarteners in our school district. In previous years intraspecific outreach throughout our school has also been at the forefront of our minds. We partnered with our school’s Green Club to launch a school- wide recycling drive. Rather than spreading awareness via conventional posters, LASER decorated bins with recycling facts to ensure a productive campaign. During last year’s holiday season, LASER stepped up to fulfil Christmas wishes of two local boys who were removed from their home just before Christmas. We sponsored a school hat day, during which students were invited to donate $2 to wear a hat during the school day in support. The response was inordinate and  over $600 was raised; enough to buy bikes and clothes for each child. Because of the overwhelming response, LASER used the funds left to support FRC team 5871, Chickadees Robotics, rebuild their team after they lost all of their materials and electronics in a fire. Galvanized by Dean’s Founder’s Reception Speech, 3284 chose to use the rest of the money to support our local police department and disadvantaged youth. We donated new backpacks and stuffed animals to be given to kids with hopes that they will provide comfort in traumatic situations. Recently, members of LASER as well as the program itself have experienced a lot of emotional hardship. We lost Todd Funke, a mentor, parent, and generous soul. In honor of him, 3284 started the Todd Funke Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a deserving senior for their participation in FIRST. Last year, the first recipient was the teams vice president and Todd’s son, Kyle Funke. Another life changing moment was partnering with The Kuhnigits, FRC team 1939, for the Go Baby Go! event. Four groups of 3284 members built child sized electric cars for children and customized them to their specific disability. The customizations were provided by Variety KC, with LASER providing the physical labor. For some of the kids it was their first mobility experience without assistance. We recognize that FIRST is about more than robots. FIRST is about taking the compassion we learn, time we yield, and skills we develop to sculpt the future.LASER Builds Robots to Build…Hope FIRST will not solve the world’s problems, but it will be the light to guide the minds of our future to do so. LASER is devoted to innovating a global network of opportunity throughout all environments & circumstances. Waiting for the right time to change the world prompts generations to wait forever. LASER may not have been provided with the perfect time, but we have found it.FIRST builds character; LASER builds kids; together we build the future.

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