Days after astronaut Mae Jemison told the Indy Women in Tech Summit that young students need hands-on STEM education, around 1,000 fifth and sixth graders are getting that opportunity as part of The Eureka! Exchange at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Program opportunities range from coding instructions for a robot with the help of the Eleven Fifty Academy to building model helicopters with Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis. The Eureka! Exchange is part of a week of events surrounding this weekend’s LPGA Indy Women in Tech Championship.
TechPoint Foundation For Youth Senior Director of Robotics George Giltner says the event is a good way to get elementary students out of the classroom and let them connect with tech companies and organizations throughout central Indiana. He says it’s important that the schools reinforce tech knowledge and opportunities in the classroom, and organizations like the TechPoint Foundation For Youth can help with grants for programs like after-school robotics.
"We’re trying to elevate academic competitions as the same level as sports is," Giltner tells Inside INdiana Business. "Sports are great, you learn a lot of valuable skills in them. But in robotics, for example…what that does is it provides some skills that sports don’t offer, and it relates a lot more directly to a career."
The week began with the IWiT Summit, headlined by Jemison, the first African American woman in space. Other speakers included High Alpha Managing Partner Scott Dorsey and Bridgestone Motorsports Chief Engineer Cara Adams.
The Indy Women in Tech Championship is in the first year of a three-year deal with the city. Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who now works with Indy Women in Tech Inc., was one of the driving forces behind bringing the tournament to the city. The championship, which runs through Saturday at the Pete Dye-designed Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, features more than 140 players competing for a share of a more than $2 million purse.