Hospital Outreach-Pediatric Centers

Hi! I recently had the idea of outreaching out to a local hospital. I wanted to talk to the pediatrics center of the hospital in order to organize an event for children. It would be doing an activity and showing the basics of STEM. However, I never really saw any particular events with that similar idea of hosting within hospitals so that is why I have not discussed it with our coach. I was wondering if any other teams had this thought and whether you were able to go through the concept or not successfully. In terms of actually organizing an event like this, what would be some of the difficulties? I have some in mind, but if it is unrealistic to even try, I don’t plan on flushing the concept out. Thank you!!

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This is not necessarily exactly what you are asking for, but team 2468 spearheaded an excellent initiative called The Lily Pad Project, where the team provides hospitals with hand-painted wooden attachments for IV poles for children to sit on while they are wheeled around with their IVs. More info is here: Lilypad — FRC 2468 Team Appreciate

Back in Fall 2018, 1619 made and donated Lilypads to a local hospital using 2468’s construction guides, and that started a partnership with the hospital that still exists today. The team now volunteers with/for the hospital in a number of ways, though not in the way you described.

Before you get too far along ideating, I would consider reaching out to the hospital you have in mind and seeing what their specific needs are. Your team may be able to help in more ways than demoing a robot, and they will know best about what is or is not feasible or useful for their staff and patients.


I noticed you posted this in the Chairman’s category of the forum. I’d like to echo this point Shelby made:

Ask yourself why you’re trying to do this outreach. If it’s really to benefit the community and not to “check a box”–whether that’s Chairman’s or otherwise–you should start by identifying the need you are trying to solve, and confirming that need is legitimate.

Lots of good you can do, and sometimes you just need to ask.


Another option would be to work with children’s hospital-adjacent programs. Often it can be really hard to meet the sterility requirements that a hospital would have.

When I was involved with hosting an offseason event, we would ask teams to bring in items to donate to the Ronald McDonald House as part of their registration fees. The RMH offers low-cost (in some cases free) housing near the hospital so parents and family of a long-term patient can have a safe, supportive place to stay. It was the highlight of my year to bring a school bus and trailer full of food, clothing, toiletries, and other supplies.

Especially during the summer and over breaks, siblings of the patient can be found staying in the facility, and they’re definitely looking for a fun distraction.

Given, there are still some sterility requirements*, but they’re much less restrictive than in the hospital proper.

It looks like there is a facility at Kings County by you, and possibly some others nearby.

*Families of some cancer or transplant patients may still have elevated precautions in place

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I was unsure on what to place this topic, so I ultimately chose to place it in chairmans as it was kinda part of outreach in a way.

I have heard and read about the effects of hospital visits on children and teens and wanted to know how to help in that aspect. One of the effects was a sense of isolation from peer groups so I thought that including an activity with people from our team would be good. Additionally, since the hospital near us only has a library and computers, I assumed that it would be more isolating without a bigger access to more activities. I’m thinking of possibly doing something similar to another frc team where they raised money for video games. Reaching out to hospitals is a good idea to know about their specific needs. Thank you for your help!

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Yes! I read about the project and it was interesting to see the story behind it as well as 1619’s efforts. I will try to ask if there is anything specific, but I am unsure how to go about it. Would I be offering specific ideas? Or would I be asking whether or not they need specific supplies(books, etc.)? In the end, I might try both, but I appreciate the help :slight_smile:

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The sterility requirements was definitely one of the difficulties I had in mind, but I will definitely look into other programs. I also had concerns with allergies, etc I have helped fundraise for RMH for other purposes in the past, so it would be good to look into it. Thanks!

Oh, hey, an excuse to log into CD during the work day!

Some of y’all know it, but I work for the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program; that’s part of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. Every state and territory in the United States has a program doing comparable things (some states split up the tasks across multiple agencies).

A mid-level FIRST team very likely has skills that’d be useful to the users of these programs. When I attended the Assistive Technology Industry Association Expo this past January as a presenter, I saw 135 flying in from Indiana (during build season!) to present on their efforts (usually finding one kid a year and doing a big build to suit their needs) and several central Florida teams presenting their work on the Maker Day.

Programs like Makers Making Change and both coordinate these efforts across local groups and stockpile plans for builds; even if there isn’t one and you’re not quite sure you want to commit to starting it, you can still contact the state AT program and see what items might be useful for them to send to others as reuse items. Or, even more locally, talk to your school’s special education department and see what needs you can fill.

Some personal favorites:

  • The Interact Switch is designed to have really low actuation force, and it’s strikingly similar to switches that cost $75 and up. Our BOM cost for filament, screws, the integrated switch, and the cable to connect it is about $4. (We print them in PETG, which is a pretty simple learning curve; PLA isn’t going to have the same resilience to hot cars and UV exposure over the long haul.)
  • The Raindrop Switch and Light Touch Switch are much smaller, and a better fit for some people. (Either would also be a pretty competent driver station button, honestly.)
  • The PAMS Universal Lockable Joint is an adjustable arm that uses 1/2" PVC as the arm material. Makes it easy to mount a lot of light-duty objects. (I’m hoping to build one up to mount a driver station display mount.)
  • Using stuff like lever nuts or soldering to a board to modify COTS toys so these kinds of switches can control the toy will save the families a solid $50 a toy.

Demos are great, but leveraging the things we know we do well to custom-make something that fills a daily need is the kind of dope that has reaching for his swear jar.

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