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The Scalawags: An Organization Focused On Providing STEM Opportunities To Kids

The Scalawags

If you have a chance to chat with a few members of the Intivix team, you’d start to notice a theme, such as a passion for providing opportunities. Opportunities to expand knowledge, try something new, or explore different roles within the company. Frankly, providing opportunities is something we believe in, and not just for the company. We also believe that children should be provided with opportunities to grow, expand their knowledge, and learn! That’s why we are thrilled to support and share information on this pretty cool organization in Lebanon, OR. The FIRST Robotics Team 1359 (a.k.a. The Scalawags).

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FIRST Robotics

We were first introduced to The Scalawags by one of our employees, Drew.  Drew’s friend’s son, Dagan is involved in the program, and when we heard the details, we were impressed (kind of an understatement). The Scalawags is a FIRST Robotics team. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”. And yes, Intivix has a focus on technology, but our amazement at this program was about more than just the technology side of things.

The Scalawags focus on providing kids between the ages of 9 and 18 with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Think of it as a hands-on opportunity that makes learning fun through engagement. In the case of The Scalawags, this learning comes in the form of building robots!

The Challenge

Each January, the teams receive their challenge for the year and spend time preparing for a competition that takes place in March. During the January through March timeframe, the teams work together to design, fabricate, program and test their robot. It’s truly a combination of technology, creativity, teamwork, communication, collaboration, and so much more. It provides an opportunity for kids to really dig in, learn about the different areas of STEM, and learn about themselves throughout the process. Skills that kids can use throughout their life, regardless of the path they choose.

Competitions

This particular team, The Scalawags, is a bit unique. They are based in Lebanon, OR, which is in the Northeast part of the state. Their population is around 17,000 people, so it falls in the “small town” range. Their team, compared to teams from much larger cities, is considered small. But, size does not stop them. Over the past three years, they’ve won competitions and brought home a few awards:

  • 2017: first-ever tournament win
  • 2018: tournament win and awards for spirit and imagery
  • 2019: awards in safety, imagery, and gracious professionalism

In other words, they’ve got some “oomph” behind them. And, they are sharing their passion for STEM with their community, and younger kids as well. The Scalawags served as Grand Marshal in the 2019 Strawberry Festival Parade, and they share their robot with local schools, the Boys and Girls Club, and during concerts in the park. They also invite younger kids to their location once per month to learn how to safely learn about the tools they work with and work on small engineering projects. They definitely are not shy about sharing their knowledge, or the opportunity to learn with others.

What Parents are Saying.

And, if you talk to the parents of kids in the program, you’ll hear how excited they are that their child is involved in The Scalawags.

“This team is AMAZING and charges the kids next to nothing to participate, whereas the teams in California that I looked into before charge so much that it’s cost prohibitive for a lot of families. Dagan’s team gets their money through fundraising and grant writing. That way everyone can participate, even if they don’t have any money. This team is so AMAZING that when the kids can’t afford to pay for their own insurance (that is the ONLY thing they charge the parents/kids, and it’s only $60/year), the mentors pitch in and pay with their OWN money so that ALL of the kids can participate! It’s really an amazing team!”
~Chris Button

Images and Details

The Scalawags also love sharing details and photos about what they are working on. In fact, if you are curious to learn more, check out their student-built website, their Facebook page or Instagram account. If you take a look, we think you’ll be impressed with what they’ve been up to lately.

Funding for their program is primarily through grants and local sponsors because they aren’t affiliated with the school district. Sponsors could be businesses or even individuals – they appreciate donations of any size. If you are interested in donating, check out their gofundme charity page. And, if you do donate to the organization, know that you are helping a great group that is focused on providing valuable learning opportunities to kids in the area.