Archive for March, 2011

Lockheed Martin makes sizable donation to Maryland school

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
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Lockheed Martin recently donated $13,000 to Chesapeake High School in Towson, Maryland, to help improve the school's robotics curriculum and program.

This is the second straight year Lockheed Martin has helped Chesapeake's efforts to teach students the benefits of robotics. Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent, Joe Hairston, said the donation will help students at the school earn the necessary skills for a successful career in a STEM field.

"This generous support from our partner, Lockheed Martin, is a solid commitment to these students and the fact that they will be well trained for many of the high-paying, highly technical jobs of the future," Hairston said.

Chesapeake High School and Lockheed Martin are business partners, and the latter has made several contributions to the school in recent years. Donations to the robotics program has allowed Chesapeake's robotics teams to compete at both the regional and national levels.

Robotics programs across the nation will be helped out by a separate donation committed by the SME Education Foundation. The organization recently gave $400,000 to its industry partner, Project Lead the Way, which will use the funds to deploy the VEX Robotics Design System in numerous high schools.

Military’s reliance on robotics is increasing

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
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All branches of the U.S. military are stepping up their efforts to utilize robotics in the field, according to a recent report from iRobot.

Currently, the military has deployed 2,000 robots to Afghanistan to help in the war on terror, according to Robert Moses, head of the government and industrial robots division of iRobot. In fact, moving forward, one robot for every 30 troops in combat will be deployed for operations, Moses said.

And a separate AtoZ Robotics report cites an ABI Research report, which revealed that the market for military robots will grow to reach $8 billion in 2015, up from $5.8 billion last year. That could mean companies such as iRobot will be in need of skilled STEM professionals to meet the growing demand for their products.

The military deploys robots for a wide range of uses, which include assessing unexploded roadside bombs and other ordinance and inspecting vehicles.

The U.S. Navy recently announced it will soon commence a program to develop micro-robot swarms that are capable of building various objects and structures. In 2009, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began work on robots that could assist in their own construction.

Washington schools receive grants for robots in the classroom

Monday, March 21st, 2011
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Burton Elementary School and La Center Middle School in Clark County, Washington, recently received grants to be used toward a robotics curriculum and other STEM education initiatives, according to a report from the Oregonian.

The grants were given by Washington STEM, a new nonprofit organization based in the state. The group looks to promote STEM initiatives and projects throughout Washington.

Burton Elementary received $8,676 in funding. The money will go toward a robotics and green energy project the school is currently participating in.

Washington STEM awarded $10,560 to La Center Middle School, which will use the grant to fund its Young Astronauts Club. The organization was formed 10 years ago to further science and math skills among students.

In all, the nonprofit will award a total of $2.4 million to 15 schools across Washington, the Oregonian reports. Chief program officer Carolyn Landel told the newspaper the organization hopes the grants will help STEM programs grow.

Washington has proven to be a hotbed for STEM education. Last month, Senator Maria Cantwell visited Delta High School in Richland, where she spoke about a STEM education bill she is currently working on. Delta is committed solely to a STEM curriculum.

President Obama announces new education initiative

Monday, March 21st, 2011
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As part of his focus on STEM education, President Obama recently announced the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Education. The agency, which is part of Obama's new budget, will pursue innovations to improve technology education, including a robotics curriculum.

The president made the announcement with secretary of education Arne Duncan and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at TechBoston Academy.

"To accelerate America’s efforts to out-innovate other nations and win the future, the President has proposed the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency – Education," the White House announced.

Obama hopes ARPA-ED can drive technology in education, much the same way the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency does for the government. DARPA has accelerated the advancements of the internet, GPS and robotics, according to the White House.

ARPA-ED will be awarded $90 million in federal funding during its first year.

Also recently, the White House scrapped the old method for tracking STEM education across the nation in favor of a new panel of experts that will fall under the National Science and Technology Council. The Obama administration said the Bush-era Academic Competitiveness Council was not meeting its original goals.

Robotics lab teaches junior high students

Monday, March 21st, 2011
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Usually reserved for adult education, the robotics lab at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Indiana, recently offered a week-long robotics curriculum to area junior high students.

The CBS television affiliate in Terre Haute, Indiana, reports the program was put together and coordinated with the help of the Southern Indiana Network for Education. While attending the lab, students experienced training they aren't likely to receive in a normal classroom, commented one teacher.

"This kind of environment we don't see in the classrooms in our public schools where they can get this hands-on experience," Jasper Middle School teacher, Kyle Jahn, said, according to the television station.

The university's robotics training coordinator, Scott Brown, said the experience was good for the school as well. It showcased what it could offer students looking to get into a STEM career.

Students in Sacramento are also learning about robotics through lab work. The Discovery Museum Science and Space Center offers an after school, robotics club and competitive robotics teams for students between the ages of 9 and 14. The latter is a move to foster robotics in the classroom that may not be offered at all schools.

Robotics in the classroom lay positive base for students

Friday, March 18th, 2011
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By participating with the local robotics club, students at the Claude D. Taylor School in Riverview, New Brunswick, are building a positive educational and social foundation, suggests a recent Times & Transcript report.

The newspaper, based in Moncton, New Brunswick, reports that the 29 students in the Claude D. Taylor Robotics Club are learning valuable skills that will help them in the future.

"The robotics club efforts, perhaps most importantly, help get youngsters enthused about learning in areas that will be of tremendous relevance throughout their lives – technology, computers, robotics and the possibilities they offer, something that already interests them as users," the report states.

Through the planning and building of a robot, students also learn about hard work, dealing with challenges and solving problems to make sure what they create is "right" and ready for use, the report said. These are all skills that will help them in and out of the classroom.

Such feelings are shared in the United States as well. In a recent round of budget cuts, President Obama made sure that STEM education wasn't affected and went so far as to create a new program for tracking such education across the country.

High Schoolers set up robotics curriculum tutorial program

Friday, March 18th, 2011
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A group of freshmen at Bowdon High School in Bowdon, Georgia, recently started a 12-week tutoring program to help Bowdon Elementary School students with a robotics curriculum, according to the Times-Georgian newspaper.

“We wanted to put a spark of inspiration in the younger grades so we could have competition from Bowdon,” student Daniel Carter told the newspaper. He, along with Sam Jenkins, started the after-school program, which now has 40 participants.

Those two have been building robots and are competing together in the regional technology fair for the past two years, the newspaper reports.

Sam Jenkins and Daniel Cater have been building robots and competing together in the regional technology fair since seventh grade. Fellow freshmen, Herschel Kirkland and Kenny Stapleton, help run the tutoring program.

Each day, the high schoolers hand out a project for the elementary students to complete and supervise them along the way. All participants are third- to fifth-graders, according to the newspaper.

Such programs may become more common, as the federal government has announced plans to focus on STEM education, including robots in the classroom, and track the progress of such programs. The White House is scrapping the Academic Competitiveness Council in favor of a new program, official Carl Wieman said.

Massachusetts school praised for focus on robotics

Friday, March 18th, 2011
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The school system in Newton, Massachusetts, recently received much praise for its focus on STEM education and a robot curriculum, according to a recent Newton Patch report.

At a school committee meeting, Newton deputy superintendent Paul Stein praised the system's Career and Vocational Technical Education program and Newton's Lab, an innovative teaching environment at Newton North High School, "where teachers, students and businesses can explore and develop ideas to help move education forward," according to the report.

“If you ever want a powerful image of how schools have changed, you can look at our Career and [Vocational Technical] Program,” Stein said.

Specifically, the robotics curriculum was one of a number of Career and Vocational Technical Education programs recognized by the school board. The group also pointed out the fact that Newton's Lab offers robotics programs for students in kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

Overall, Massachusetts has been shown to be a leader in promoting STEM education. Through partnerships with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the education partnership's Innovate + Educate, the state will serve as a model for STEM initiatives for others to follow.

Fundraiser will allow team to participate in robotics competition

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
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The robotics team at Booker T. Washington High School in Overtown, Florida, is in need of some help to participate in an upcoming robotics competition, according to a report from the Miami Herald.

The team, part of the school's The Science, Engineering, Communication, Mathematics, and Enrichment Club, is holding a fundraiser to reach the $2,500 needed to cover expenses to attend the robotics competition in Orlando. Funds will mainly go toward travel costs for the 25-member team.

“SECME members are the future of the science and engineering world,” club president Yanelys Mena said in an effort to solicit donations, according to the newspaper. “Just think of it as planting seeds for the future employees.”

This would be the high school's first time taking part in a robotics competition. According to the Herald, club advisor Dickson Bidokwu, a physics and chemistry teacher, said the competition would be “the icing on their learning experience cake.”

Robotics teams and clubs regularly rely on generous donations to cover operating costs. The SME Education Foundation recently committed $400,000 to Project Lead the Way, which will use the funds to upgrade Computer Integrated Manufacturing centers at 200 schools nationwide.

SME Education Foundation commits $400,000 for robotics kits

Monday, March 7th, 2011
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The SME Education Foundation, which works to promote engineering and technology education, recently donated $400,000 to its industry partner, Project Lead the Way, to help improve STEM education across the country through robotics kits.

Project Lead the Way will use the donation to enhance Computer Integrated Manufacturing centers in high schools with the VEX Robotics Design System. Another $75,000 will be used to supply PLTW master teachers with VEX kits to better train instructors.

"We're bringing a real-world robotics environment to CIM center classrooms making it possible for students to have access to sophisticated robotics programs with involved, highly trained master teachers," SME Education Foundation chief operation officer Bart Aslin said.

The robotics in the classroom improvements will be completed for the fall 2012 semester and will affect 300 high schools across the country. The use of VEX Design System Robotics will also give these schools direct access to VEX Robotics Competitions.

Many robotics curriculum initiatives take place either after school or on weekends, but the SME Education Foundation donation will allow students to learn and put to use important STEM skills and training during regular school hours.