Grant awarded to expand robotics within Public Schools of Robeson County

·3 min read

Jun. 22—LUMBERTON — The Public Schools of Robeson County has recently been awarded a grant to expand its robotics program, according to the school district's K-12 Science supervisor.

The grant funding which totals between $70,000 and $75,000 will help purchase robotic equipment, class pack lessons, and training for teacher coaches, said Susan Miller-Hendrix, PSRC Science supervisor.

"This is a grant through LEGO Education that will build our robotics program over the next three years," she said.

"We will be able to offer LEGO Discovery in schools with Pre-K and Kindergarten and expand our LEGO Robotics program for elementary grades (1st-3rd) and middle grades (4th-8th) by offering a robotics club at 15 schools in year one with the expansion to include 9 additional schools in year two, and 7 additional schools in year three," Miller-Hendrix wrote in a statement to The Robesonian.

In the third year, an expo will be held within the district for elementary and middle school robotics to demonstrate lessons learned, she said.

"Our goal is to build a pipeline of students who will then join our high school competitive robotic teams," Miller-Hendrix added. "We currently have one FIRST robotics team at Robeson Early College and a robotics club at Red Springs High School but next year we will have a robotics club at each of the high schools across the district with hopes of building future competitive teams."

Past grant allocations

The grant is one of multiple awarded to the public school district to support the robotics program areas, she said.

"In 2018, we were awarded a FIRST STEM Equity and Diversity Grant ($44,000) to start robotics in many 2nd-grade classrooms," Miller-Hendrix stated.

"Based on what was accomplished that year we received a continuation award in 2019 ($29,000) that allowed us to place robotics in some middle school classrooms. In 2020, we were awarded a Disney grant ($50,000) to order equipment and supplies to start high school robotics as well as support our Early College Robotics Team," she added.

Benefits of robotics

There are many benefits to offering robotics in the classroom, according to LEGO education's website.

Robotics "develops soft skills, implements the engineering design process and supports challenge-based learning," according to the website.

Goals

"As the Science Supervisor, I understand the importance of exposing all students to STEM and making sure we are providing equity and access across the district. As we start these robotic clubs, we will then move the older robotic kits into the classrooms for daily use," Miller-Hendrix said.

"I would love for each and every student who walks through a classroom door in the Public Schools of Robeson County to have the opportunity to experience STEM in some capacity. Most of the careers our students will hold have yet to be developed, but by preparing them to think critically and creatively, we are preparing them to become the problem-solvers of the future," she added.