15th annual KC Youth STEM Fair sees robots face off, makers in the making

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 15th annual Kansas City Youth STEM Fair made for a fun and educational Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of students and families participated in hands on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics exhibits. The Black Family Technology Awareness Association hosted the event at the Southeast Community Center. Organizers say the event is designed to help kids and teens explore STEM topics in a fun way with their peers.

Among the events was a Vex Robotics Team Tournament where students from across the metro and midwest including Lone Jack, Platte City, Kansas City, Mo., Corning, IA., Bashor, Kan., and Weston Nb. Middle school and high school students competed to earn spots in the state robotics championship.

Platte County High School freshman, Jake Knudsen says it took him and his teammates around 80 hours to build their robot for competition.

"It's pretty satisfying to be able to see your robot perform well in a competition, and be able to move onto states, nationals, and worlds," Knudsen said. "Which we have qualified for two, and hopefully we'll qualify for worlds at state."

The Black Family Technology Awareness Association believes events like these will help bridge the technological gap for African-American families, and inspire children to go into STEM fields as adults.

Danielle Small's daughter is learning about robotics and joined the BFTAA's Lego program about eight weeks ago. Small says it's been a wonderful and empowering experience for her daughter.

"She's really opened up, she's more sociable. She's learning a lot. Her math skills, she's really strong at it, so she gets to bring that out," Small said. "Be around other kids that really enjoy it as well."

BFTAA is a nonprofit that provides weekly youth robotics clubs and a local online radio station, KUAW, which focuses on local news, entertainment, and social topics.

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