Boys & Girls Club to expand robotics with grant

August 31, 2018

As the recipient of a $23,000 grant, the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia is now looking to start up robotics programs at three of its club sites, expanding access to science and technology opportunities to those who may have previously been without.

Earlier this week, the organization was announced as one of 12 recipients of a 2018 FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — grant. The local organization is the only one from Georgia to receive the grant.

With the grant, robotics programs at all of the organization’s sites in Rome and Floyd County as well as Polk County will be put in place. The grant money will be used to purchase Lego robotics for members of these clubs ages 6 to 13, according to a news release from the organization.

The robotics programs for younger kids will accompany the high school robotics program, which has been in operation for several years, achieving significant recognition and acting as a launch pad for graduates to pursue STEM fields in college.

The high school program supports the only Boys & Girls Club advanced robotics team in the state. The team had a second-place finish in a FIRST competition in Dalton two years ago, all while going up against larger school-based teams with more than 50 team members, compared to their dozen or so.

FIRST, a nonprofit group aimed at boosting participation in science and technology activities among youth with limited access, started the STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant in 2016. More than 38 communities in the U.S. and Canada have been the recipients of grants from FIRST, totaling almost $1.2 million. The grant is focused on providing greater access to STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — learning opportunities for “underrepresented and underserved students,” according to the news release.

The grant will afford 260 students with the chance to jump into exploring robotics and the encompassing fields it involves through hands-on learning.

The Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia was assessed on a number of factors, including the need her locally, demographics of the area and its ability to carry out the task of confronting inequities in access, according a news release from FIRST.

“Access to STEM education, mentorship and learning resources has powerful implications for a student’s future, but too many young people lack these valuable tools,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST, in a news release. “With these resources, we hope more educators and community leaders are able to galvanize students of all backgrounds to aspire for more and reach their full potentials.”

Other recipients of grants this year are public school systems in Milwaukee and Lumberton, North Carolina, along with numerous organizations, like the Detroit Police Athletic League and the Seattle Special Olympics.

Applications for the 2019 grant will start being accepted this fall. More information on the application process and the grant program can be found at firstinspires.org.

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