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First Thing: Robotics in Every School


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students and their robots at the FIRST competition

High school teams and their robots competing at the regional FIRST Robotics competition at San Diego.

Mike Blake / Reuters

Robotics education should be offered in every school, says Brian Toohey, a supporter of the nonprofit organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). Hoping to capitalize on the media buzz surrounding the recent FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in Atlanta, Toohey says he wants to convince the U.S. Congress and the Department of Education that $100 million should be spent over five years to bring FIRST's robotics program to more schools. The funds would cover travel expenses, equipment for building robots, and possibly a stipend for teachers. "We've seen [FIRST] work in thousands of schools across the country, and we know that the model works," Toohey says.

FIRST receives assistance from corporate sponsors, but the nonprofit has problems finding sponsors and mentors for low-income communities. The robotics competition drew more than 10,000 students to the Georgia Dome from April 16-18. High-school teams designed robots that could throw balls and compete in a basketball-style game on a low-friction floor.

From USA Today
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