The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois has awarded Rockford Robotics, through RPS 205, a $20,000 grant for the FIRST Robotics Roll Out. FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The Rockford School Board formally accepted the grant tonight.
Robotics programs help students at all levels develop STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math). They focus on critical thinking, problem solving, organization, communication and teamwork. All of these are necessary for careers in the 21st century. The grant supports one of the Readiness Rocks: College and Career Readiness.
The program includes three components:
FIRST Tech Challenge (for high school students): Teams face a different game every year. The teams then design and program a robot to accomplish the game and compete on a field with other teams.
FIRST Lego League (for fourth through eighth grade students): Teams face a series of challenges on a 4 by 8-foot table. They receive points based on each challenge and are ranked by score when competing. The robots are made out of Lego Mindstorm kits.
Jr. FIRST Lego League (for kindergarten through third grade students): Students are given a topic to research and develop solutions. They construct a model from Legos and must use one motor. They also must make a poster explaining their solution and present it to judges at competition.
RPS leaders hope to have Robotics programs in every elementary, middle and high school, making RPS 205 the first in the state to have FIRST robotics teams available at the K-12 level.
During the 2013-14 school year:
Junior FIRST Lego League (K-3) teams were at Froberg, Whitehead, Lathrop, Washington and Brookview.
FIRST Lego League (4-8) teams were at Lincoln, Marshall and Froberg. (The Lego League team at Marshall competed at the state level.)
Jefferson High School pioneered the district’s FIRST Tech Challenge team, in which students learn to think like engineers.