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Robotics Programs Encouraging STEM Education Nationwide

STEM education is ever evolving in the classroom and the robotics movement nationwide aims to add fun and creativity into the mix.

“Building robots is a sport for the mind, and, despite being unorthodox, it’s become an officially recognized high school sport in two states, and more states are set to follow,” reports Frank Smith of EdTech Magazine.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is the organizing responsible for the surge in robotics competitions and the countrywide teams that are being created.

FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 according to the article. The organization is responsible for the nationwide robotics competitions where students use their existing knowledge, fused with what they learn in the process to create robots that can be programmed to carry out a specific task.

“STEM is experiencing renewed interest nationwide, and the rise of FIRST robotics competitions at schools have given way to official recognition in some states,” says Smith.

“In 2012, Minnesota became the first state to recognize robotics competitions as a sport. Arizona became the second in December, and Connecticut and Texas are headed in that direction, says FIRST President Don Bossi,” according to Smith’s article.

Like any other sport team robotics teams are beginning to see added support from their peers. Pep rallies, are now becoming the norm for these STEM geared teams.

“For kids, it’s just huge. They see the soccer team having pep rallies — well, now there’s pep rallies for robotics,” says FIRST President Don Bossi.

The robotics project is facing the daunting task of trying to diversify the STEM future workforce that is made up of a small 17 percent of women according to Smith.

“The lack of girls and minorities in STEM programs has become a barrier to wider acceptance,” reports Smith. “FIRST isn’t alone in this diversity struggle. Technology companies such as Google and Microsoft also have been attempting to bridge that divide. In 2014, Google released the results of a company-wide diversity survey, showing that women made up just 17 percent of its tech workforce.”

Robotics teams are immersed in STEM geared concentrations by using computer coding, design, mathematics, science and some pretty sophisticated engineering processes. As it continues to spread across the country FIRST will look to fill the gaps needed as well as continuing to make the sport enjoyable and engaging.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor


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