Robotics Program Aims For Early STEM Interest
Indiana has launched a statewide program designed to grow interest in science, technology, engineering and math through robotics. The state-led effort initially involves fourth and fifth graders, but is expected to expand into middle and high schools. Public, private and nonprofit organizations including VEX Robotics, NASA and Indianapolis-based Project Lead The Way are joining together for the program that is patterned after one established in Indianapolis. Any Indiana school, public or private, is eligible to apply for the inaugural class of 400.
Indiana Department of Workforce Development Associate Chief Operating Officer Dennis Wimer says it is "critical" to get kids interested in STEM fields early in their academic years. He says programs like the robotics initiative are good for the state’s economy. "We’re targeting the fourth and fifth grades. The teams that I’ve been a part of and seen, the excitement at that age about, you know, they talk about the competition and they talk about how they’re doing this kind of programming or they’re doing this kind of robot and the whole time they’re talking about the science and engineering pieces of it, and thinking about it more from an enjoyable gaming aspect." He says the experience could help shape future academic and career pursuits.
Wimer says the program will be a scaled-up version of the IndyVRC program that was championed by former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Participation in that program continues to grow and has received a great deal of private-sector support. "The businesses led the partnerships with this to make it happen. Really our funding for this is to seed it and get it started." The state is kicking in $300,000 for the first two years. The funding will cover startup kits for the schools that cost hundreds of dollars each.
You can connect to more about the statewide program and see contact information by clicking here.