Fourteen robotics programs at schools and CareerTech campuses across Oklahoma are getting a financial boost.
Tri-County Technology Center in Bartlesville, Adair middle and high schools, Broken Arrow High School, Chouteau-Maize High School, Jenks High School, Locust Grove middle and high schools, Memorial Middle School, Union High School and Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy are among the recipients of FIRST Robotics grants through American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
FIRST Robotics is a nonprofit organization that offers hands-on robotics programs for teams of students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. In 2019-20, 679,000 students across all grades participated in 3,700 FIRST Robotics competitions around the world.
However, participation is not free. Team registration costs range from $275 to $3,000, depending on the age level.
Abraham Kamara is the sponsor of Memorial Middle School’s robotics team. For middle school teams like Memorial’s, the team registration fee does not cover robot parts — just access to a discounted rate for components.
Rather than buy components for their competition robots through FIRST Robotics, Kamara’s students design many of the parts using Tinkercad and print them on 3-D printers at the school. He said the grant is a critical assist in order to continue that practice.
“Every little bit of grant money we get from anywhere goes a long way,” he said. “That is money that can go towards materials for 3-D printing or to pay for tools.”
Memorial eighth grader Jaime Rush is a second-year member of his school’s robotics team. He got involved at the suggestion of another teacher and fell in love with it.
“I’m a really fidgety guy,” he said. “Getting to interact with stuff and with stuff I like to do, it helps me focus. It helps me put my head in a certain space. I just go there and really get to focus when I’m doing this. It’s a lot of fun for me.”