I’m a Junior and a Life scout, heavily involved in both Scouts and Robotics, somehow balancing both (rip sleep). I’m looking to start my Eagle project, but I don’t know what to do. I want to do something STEM or FIRST related, has anyone done their project with FIRST? Or just in general any project ideas?
I am considering planning and running an FLL event, but that is a long project and even though I have time before I age out, I would rather not wait. I love the idea of doing/planning/building something for STEM in the community but really any ideas would be great.
The Eagle Board enjoys projects with a sustaining impact rather than a singular event or donation (though they’re often fine with it); something like planning an FLL tournament, and then thoroughly documenting the process in a way that someone can build off of it in future years, retain sponsors, etc.
There’s a lot of intricacies you’re likely not aware of that can trip up some forms of projects. Another scout who’s already gone through the absolute bureaucratic nightmare they’ve made the whole thing into will help you immeasurably; to don’t be afraid to find a few and ask questions.
From the sound of it, you have ~a year left before ageing out, which is on the close side IMO but doable. You’ll want to get an approved proposal in the next month or so if possible.
Edit: if all the cool kids are doing it:
Eagle Scout 1/16/2020
Manhattan Beach, CA
Greater Los Angeles Area Council
also don’t lean on this but as long as the project is done and signed off before you turn 18 the Eagle Board of Review can be 3 months later
First off congrats on making it to Life Scout! That alone is no easy task.
For my project, I made 2 picnic tables and a few benches along a nature trail at the elementary school that I went to. I ended up taking the skills that I learned on 166 and designed the tables and benches in Creo.
I have a really important question. How are you going to fundraise for your project? I know for mine, I hosted a pancake breakfast at the church that chartered my troop. If you haven’t thought of one, I would really buckle down. There are a lot of different ways to hold fundraisers, you just need to find one that is COVID friendly. Some of my students who are working on theirs really had to think outside the box as our council is very nitpicky on how things are being run with COVID.
If you want to pick my brain feel free to PM me. It’s been a bit since I did my project but I still remember all of the hoops and hurdles I had to jump through.
Eagle Scout 1/27/2016
Daniel Webster Council
Tiny add to this: only think about how you’d fundraise. If you don’t get a project proposal signed off first and start fundraising there’s some ugly situations that can and have arised. I hate saying it, but you gotta read the workbook cover to cover before doing anything concrete.
Literally just contacting people to ask if they would be interested in potentially donating is a no-no for some councils.
My project was not directly related to FIRST, but that does not mean I did not leverage the things I had learned in robotics to get it done.
I 100% agree with @troy_dietz above. First order of business is to read the workbook and talk to your adviser and other people who have gone through it for advice throughout. (my DMs are open)
I found my project by reaching out to a local garden and setting up a meeting with the person in charge. You might be able to find other local initiatives in your area if you want more options.
With his input I chose to rebuild a freestanding handwashing station with a roof. It was the first big carpentry project I had ever done, but I had my robotics team to help me through it. I designed the whole project in CAD and then reviewed it with one of my robotics mentors to confirm that it was good (going through multiple revisions). It gave my beneficiary much more confidence when I could tell him I was working with someone who could review my work and help me make it better/ensure it would go well. Look for opportunities to do similar things.
Once I was ready to do the project, we used the robotics lab to pre-cut all of the lumber. This also made adherence to safety policies easier (following safety protocols is something my board of review emphasized , seems important ofc). I also borrowed robotics tools to make it cheaper and invited team members and mentors to come help complete the project.
Basically what I’m trying to tell you is that although the eagle scout project is a very big ordeal, you can make your life much easier by leveraging those skills you have learned and connections you have made through robotics to make your whole project go much smoother.
I was mostly hoping either my beneficiary would pay or I could convince my team to. If my project is for my team, I can jump all the hurdles by doing the fundraising with the team rather than the troop. If my project benefits my school or my team it makes things easy for fundraising and planning in general. I have just under 2 years until I age out, but I’m hoping to finish in time for college apps and such
…of tracking down a Scoutmaster (who happened to be in the robot team programming room at the time) and other persons, then heading for Council, the day before my 18th birthday. The sad part was that they were used to this, me being something like the 4th or 5th in a row to do the same thing… (And I skipped out on a night machine shop class for BoR. The instructor had just one question the next class: Did you pass?)
A couple of cautions from what I’m seeing so far:
I would be very careful with the “beneficiary pays” thought. There’s some cases where I’m sure that would be fine, and there’s some that would be problematic. There IS a limitation on “commercial” projects. Assume that you’ll need to pay for some part of whatever project, even if it’s just feeding your crew.
I would also be somewhat cautious with the team as beneficiary and also doing the work. I can see how that would work out, but I can also see it being rather interesting when the project leader has the beneficiary fundraise for a project that will benefit them, and then do the work that will benefit them.
There’s a case near me of a nature preserve that actually landed on the “Not Approved” list for the scout district they’re in, about the time that I was looking to do my project. Seems that if an Eagle approached them, the planning (and fundraising and tool supply and everything else) was basically done already… and word got around… and the district got quite a few projects and kind of said “You know, you need to show more leadership than just doing a project here”. I’m not sure they’re off that list yet.
Start with this question: With relation to STEM, what does your school/team/community currently have, and what do they need? Then talk to other people in that particular area and find out if they actually need that, or if they really need something similar but different. If you can’t clearly identify who benefits and why, you’re probably going to have to start again.
I’m also available if you have any questions.
Eagle Scout 4/3/2007
Hermosa Beach, CA
Los Angeles Area Council
As with others, my Eagle Scout project wasn’t related to FIRST, but it was a good example of cross-organization collaboration, and not dissimilar to your idea of planning and running an FLL event.
My project was to organize and hold a large (500+ attendees) volunteer recognition event for the volunteers for a local history museum. I had been a volunteer at the museum for a number of years and it seemed like a good way to “give back”. I also was in 4-H and involved my 4-H club as well. There were several components to the project, including working with the museum in top-level planning, having the 4-H club assemble and sort over 1000 mailed invitations, organizing activities for the event, and of course running the day of the event itself which had close to 100 4-Hers and Scouts involved in activities and support. The local history museum provided a (small) budget for the essentials so I didn’t need to worry too much about fundraising (I may have done a bit of work to get food donated).
Note I did very little of the hands-on work myself–it was all about organization and leadership. The scale of the event and the multiple components was what really put the project over the top. I’d be a bit worried that a single FLL event is on the small side, so you might want to brainstorm how to build that idea bigger.
One big advantage of the project for me was that I was getting close (~6 months) to turning 18, and the event meant there was a hard “finish date” for the project. At the time I was choosing projects, I had heard some horror stories about construction type projects dragging on for several years.
As others have stated, build on the connections and skills you already have. Feel free to PM me!
Eagle Scout 1/2/1998
Three Fires Council
I can almost guarantee that if you do this, your project WILL NOT get approved. I’ve seen a few people get shot down by the eagle board because they wanted to fund their project without raising it (Whether it was personal money grandparents etc.).
First off completing your Eagle and participating in FIRST isn’t easy and I admire you.
We have had several team members obtain their Eagle rank (including my son) and just has one finish this month.
The only one who had a project for the team is one who made travel cases for our Vex game components. We get 4 fields worth of stuff every year (well not this year) and loan them out to other event partners. The cases made transporting and organizing our stuff so much easier.
You could ask your local FLL teams what sorts of things they might need. Most of our local elementary school FLL teams don’t have dedicated workspace, so a portable quick setup table and/or portable robot & lego storage could be useful to them. Yours local teams might have similar (or different) needs. Once you talk to them you’ll know.
My project wasn’t necessarily STEM based but I definitely used some design and leadership skills from FIRST for it. I ended up building a new trail for a local trail system non-profit organization including building a staircase down a steep hill. I was able to learn how to use surveying tools and then apply design skills FIRST had taught me in laying out the staircase.
As for raising funds I don’t think I actually raised any cash for the project. I was able to get all of the materials (wood, gravel, rebar, and concrete) donated by local companies and the equipment was provided by one of the scout leaders who ran a rental business. I find local businesses are often much happier to donate materials than cash, so depending on the project you may not need to raise any funds if you can get the materials you need!
One project that I think can have a large impact that I’ve seen done for Eagle Scout and Gold Award (Girl Scouts) projects are building weather stations at elementary schools. If the school doesn’t have something like it, it can be a great way to help increase STEM exposure, education opportunities for the science classes, and excitement at a young age… and it’ll have a lasting impact over many years of use. These stations can be simple or elaborate, depending on the area you have to work with and budget, and could even be expanded to include things that aren’t exactly weather related, like a sundial. Of course, scope for the project is important, you may end up deciding to do it across your entire district
Eagle Scout 3/31/1999
Simon Kenton Council
I had a student that did his eagle scout project that involved starting some FLL teams and building up some documentation/training for them. I don’t know the full details, but I do know he had some issues with getting approval. But that team is still going!
Many local parks and other city organizations have backlogs of small projects that can make it relatively easy to find work. For example, my project was painting all the rusted trash barrels across 9 city parks. My brother’s was planting several hundred trees for the city. You really just need to ask around and something will come up where someone needs to get something done. Obviously these are more logistics and management exercises than STEM, but I see a lot of eagle candidates do work in these types of areas often.
Most projects I’ve helped with were not completely self-fundraised by the eagle candidate–most had the core materials paid for by the entity being helped (ex. for mine, the paint was paid for and for my brother’s, the trees were paid for), then the eagle candidate fundraised and/or obtained on-line donations for food and any necessary tooling (ex. I got in-kind painting supplies from hardware stores and sandwiches from various local restaurants). Every council is going to look at this differently, though.
Eagle Scout 11/2006
Crossroads of America Council
There’s some really solid advice in this thread, and I can totally relate to where you are, because I was there not too long ago.
It’s awesome that you are finally making the push to Eagle, and that you know generally where you would like to make an impact in your community.
I would echo Connor’s story and suggest that you leverage what you have learned in FRC (CAD, manufacturing, leadership…) to open up options to make your project as good as possible, while also being motivated and interested in what you are doing.
Honestly, as long as you have a good Eagle Counselor, aren’t afraid to lean on your community and troop for help (money, labor, advice…), and choose a project that you genuinely care about, you will Eagle in no time and will have a great memorable project.
Eagle Scout 10.25.17
San Diego, CA
Rancho Mesa District
San Diego Imperial Council
It is a lot of work to plan and run an FLL event. It will nearly impossible for one person to do it all. There appears to be a number of events already on the calendar published by FIRST.
It would be good to get in touch with some of those tournament organizers to learn what you need to do so that you can set up a good quality event that is sustainable. I have met people who have quit the program because of very poorly run events. It would also be good to check with the FIRST Mid-Atlantic to make sure that another FLL event is actually needed. Team registrations are down significantly in our area and others that I have heard of.
There are some extra/unusual requirements for the 2020/2021 season and there are still a lot of unanswered questions that will make it more difficult. Hopefully, the TD’s in NJ have a handle on these issues and can help you work through the issues. Feel free to reach out to me through the private message system if you do go down the road of organizing an FLL event for the 2020/2021 season. I am working with a number of veteran volunteers to set up a virtual FLL tournament in the Houston area and I may be able to offer some advice on what we have worked out and information we have been able to collect from event organizers in other areas.
I’m going to echo some things already said here, but here’s some of my advice:
If you want to change or supplement your tournament organization, don’t be afraid to look online for ideas and take from there (that steal from the best, invent the rest mentality). https://eagleprojects.boyslife.org/ may be a good place to start, maybe something there will jump out to you as applicable to a robotics or STEM project.
If you have a specific beneficiary/organization in mind but don’t know how to best help them, try approaching them and seeing what their needs are. They might have different ideas that will lead you down the right path.
In terms of concrete project ideas, I considered building a bunch of FLL tables for a local robotics organization. Also, a friend of mine redid his soccer team’s storage area, maybe there’s a STEM organization that needs that too.
Best of luck, I’m sure you’ll do something great
Eagle Scout 11/1/20
St. Charles, IL
Three Fires Council
My eagle project was making a small cemetery actually look like a cemetery. (Pictures at the end) If you can think of a “run down” or out of shape cemetery in your area, I would highly recommend looking into doing a project involving it. I know my Troop definitely upholds the “respect the dead” principle (esspecialy if they served!) to a high degree and are happy to see that scouts recognize this. If not approach local churches or food banks, chances are at least one of them will have something for you.
As for fundraising, my best fundraiser was a returnables drive, I ended up funding 3/4 of my project off of it. If this is not an option due to the state you live in, scrap metal is another great option. If you end up approaching businesses for materials donations, go to the smaller non national chain ones. Go in uniform and be prepared to be able to take whatever it is they donate to you then and there.
I hope this is helpful and wish you the best of luck on your endeavors!
Eagle Scout 11/18/2020
Blue Star District
Water and Woods Field Service Council
I’m so glad you are interested in including STEM in your eagle project. I know I had trouble finding something I could work towards and care about until I had the idea to work with my robotics program as the beneficiary.
My project, which was completed about a week ago now, was to do two things. First, I designed and created an outreach box for our programs FTC teams which would be more durable and helpful for when teams make go to outreach events. The second portion involved the creation of STEM kits which would be distributed to girl scouts on behalf of my FRC team 2338. I made 100 bristle bots (toothbrush hex bugs) and 100 water bottle lava lamps which were assembled and distributed with the help of fellow scouts. Each of these have instructions included and are aimed to teach young kids about STEM. My board was not satisfied with each of the sections on their own which is why I ended up combining them.
These both turned out great and I would be more than happy to share designs or examples!