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The Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators September 2012
In This Issue

What is STEM?

What is FIRST?

First Resources

FIRST Competitions

Have Brenda Speak to Your Group

Quick Links

Submit an article

Contact Us

Subscribe to our newsletter

Find Us On Facebook



Contribute by using these Partner links

Identity Theft Protection


Learning At Home


HEF Travel






One of the new Buzz words in education is STEM. 

What is STEM?

It is an acronym which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  Get a better understanding from:

Why should home educators be concerned about STEM?

The highest paying jobs in the future will be in the STEM fields.  A great website to educate yourself about STEM Careers is:
See what careers are in demand, view salaries and take an assessment .

Why are employers seeking graduates in the STEM fields?

Students who have majored in the STEM subjects have acquired the ability to solve problems, to think analytically and logically, and the ability to work independently, as well as in teams.

How do you get your students interested in STEM?

Start them young in activities, projects and competitions to trigger their curiosity.  Understanding mathematics needs to begin with concrete activities which give the child an understanding of numbers, sequencing and groupings.  Engage them in number games and word problems.

What are some STEM competitions open to home educators?

  • FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a robotics competition for children from age 6 to 18.
  • 4-H is part of the County Extension Office and offers many science and technology projects and competitions (even a robotics project.)

(Note: There are other competitions such as VEX but these may not be feasible for home educated students.)


What is FIRST?

What is FIRST?
See the YouTube video 

What are the Levels of Competition?

Junior First

Junior FIRST LEGO League, (Jr.FLL)   (ages 6 - 9)
It captures young children’s inherent curiosity and directs them toward discovering the wonders of science and technology. This program features a real-world scientific concept to be explored through research, teamwork, construction, and imagination.


First LegoFIRST LEGO League (FLL), (ages 6 - 14)
It immerses children in real-world science and technology challenges. Teams design their own solution to a current scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that perform a series of missions. 


First Tech ChallengeFIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) (High School Students)
This is a robotics competition that allows students to compete head to head using a sports model.



First RoboticFIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)  (ages 14 - 18)
Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind,™  it combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real world” engineering as a student can get. Professional Mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team.


Will these competitions provide all the coursework a student needs?

No. Students will still need to study math and science as independent subjects, but using competition as a motivator makes them understand its application and love it.  In addition to math and science, the competition requires them to read, research, write and make presentations. It sparks their curiosity, imagination and creativity. It helps them to understand how STEM are used in the real world and it gives them hands-on experience in the fields.

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What are some great resources for courses, curriculum and support?

To name a just a few:

  • FLVS offers free math, science and technology courses for students in grades 6 -12.  Florida certified teachers are there to teach, tutor and support your online learning.  See the Catalog of Courses here. The FLVS offers a computer programming class as well as an AP Computer Science course read about it in the April 2012 HEF newsletter 
  • Kahn Academy  offers a free library of 3800 videos covering K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even reaches into the humanities with playlists on finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.
  • Mr. D’s Math  offers Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and Geometry digital textbook series, online courses, tutoring and co-ops for home educated students for a fee.
  • Local groups that focus on STEM activities

Tampa Bay area:

Winter Haven Campus of Polk State College

  • Fall Enrichment Classes on Robotics and FIRST competition teams. Engineering classes are being offered during the spring semester. Contact Brenda Bracewell at to find out if classes will open in the Fall of 2013.

Miami Area:

West Palm Beach area:

Port Orange area:

Panama City area:

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FIRST Competitions

If you are interested in starting a team in your area, you might want to see a FIRST Competition in your area. These events generally start around 9:00 am and end between 3:30pm and 5:00pm. They are open to the public and most are free.

Click here for complete details (be sure to check the box to the right, then choose FL)

Here are the list of upcoming Tournaments in Florida:

Junior First Lego League

Local Event

Jacksonville Country Day School

Jacksonville, FL  USA


Local Event


Winter Haven, FL  USA


First Lego League
(Qualifying Tournaments)


Last Chance QT

Davidson Middle School


Razzma Taz Bot Tournament

Boynton Beach, Florida


Robotic Explorers Qualifying Tournament

Westside Elementary School


 Roosevelt Qualifier

Roosevelt Elementary School


 Saturn Qualifier

Saturn Elem School


 Thrasher 2

Thrasher Horne Conference Center

First Tech Challenge


Polk State College Student Center

Winter Haven, FL  USA



MAST Academy

Miami, FL  USA




Mariner High School

Cape Coral, FL  USA



Seminole High School

Seminole, FL  USA



Hagerty High School

Oviedo, FL  USA



Cocoa Beach High School

Cocoa Beach , FL  USA



TERRA Environmental Research Institute

Miami, FL  USA



Jesuit High School

Tampa, FL  USA



Embry Riddle ICI Center

Daytona Beach, FL  USA


First Robotics Competition


University of Central Florida Arena

Orlando, FL  USA

07-Mar - 09-Mar-2013


Great Fort Lauderdale & Broward County Convention Center

Fort Lauderdale, FL  USA

28-Mar - 30-Mar-2013


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