Imagine America as a place where the percentage of students involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is higher than average. Imagine America as a place where students are motivated to pursue STEM-related degrees and careers. On December 3, 2013, Bill Chappell of NPRreported, “…only 50 percent [of] students agreed that they are interested in learning mathematics, slightly below the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ) average of 53 percent” (9). However, there are several steps that we can take to encourage more students to pursue the STEM-related fields of study. For example, we could encourage student to participate in extracurricular activities, such as robotics. In recent years robotics programs have been used as a way to increase more students’ involvement in science and engineering. These programs include:
· Vex Robotics:Funded by the Robotic Education & Competition Foundation located in Texas, the foundation offers competitions worldwide for students with the goal of increasing the area of students that pursue STEM through allowing students to create a robot that competes in a game.
· BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) Robotics:This program challenges students to create a robot using materials such as plywood, PVC, plastic and other electronics and miscellaneous materials. This program seeks students to be innovative and creative. BEST Robotics headquarters is in Texas and located in 18 different states.
· FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology): Founded by Dean Kaman, inventor of the Segway in 1992. This program has been reported to have reached over 350,000 students worldwide, and also helps students find millions of dollars in scholarship money.
During my freshman year of high school I joined a robotics team and that experience enabled me to learn programming, project management and time management. Robotics is an important tool in motivating students to pursue technology skills, because it challenges students to engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as teamwork. I believe that robotics is just one platform that could be used in getting more students involved in the area of STEM.