Thousands of Hoosier students and parents will descend on Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis this weekend for the Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship. Hosted by Techpoint Foundation for Youth, the competition will showcase 274 elementary, middle, and high school teams. It is the largest robotics state championship in the U.S.

In an interview on Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, Foundation Chief Executive Officer George Giltner explained how events like this have helped Indiana become the top state for K-12 robotics programs.

“For the last seven years, we’ve been handing out grants, helping train teachers to make learning how to be a robotics coach accessible, easy and fun. And it has taken off beyond what we expected,” said Giltner.

The foundation says 1,230 elementary, 664 middle school, and 221 high schools have VEX teams in the state.

In 2015, Techpoint Foundation for Youth launched the state robotics competition, which stemmed from the state robotics initiative. The SRI was developed to provide a hands-on, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning opportunity to every Indiana student through the robotics platform.

Giltner says the one of the key pillars of the foundation is to provide equal access to meaningful STEM education.

“Our priority populations are girls, students of color and low-income students. We now have almost 15,000 girls on robotics teams. 43% of our students are girls which is tremendous, and about 25% of our students are students of color,” said Giltner.

Students began building their robots at the beginning of the school year and have competed at local events to earn their way to this weekend’s state championship.

The top teams will advance to the VEX world championship held in Dallas

This event is open to the public and free however Techpoint Foundation says donations will be accepted. Funds raised during the event will go directly back toward supporting Indiana schools that want to bring STEM education opportunities to their communities.