Nonprofit aims to boost robotics in the classroom


AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week, the Texas Workforce Commission will award the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology in Texas or FIRST in Texas a million-dollar check Tuesday.

The grant money goes to schools across the state with the highest percentage of underserved and underrepresented students to help create competitive robotics teams.   

In the last three years, FIRST in Texas officials said participation has gone up nearly 50% and in just one year, the number of Central Texas girls participating increased by 37%.

Bowie High School robotics team compete. Photo/Laura Mixon

This year, they hope to help 1,550 students get involved in robotics. During last year’s round of grant money, Bowie High School got $1,000 to pay registration fees in the Austin Metro League.

“The idea that you can create something out of virtually nothing, you can take a box of metal parts and it’s driven by your imagination, your engineering skills, working with others and the ability to create something new is always exciting and to push yourself in ways you never thought were possible,” Laura Mixon, the high school’s robotics coach said.

The Bowie BotDawgs Robotics Team created 2017-2018. Photo/Laura Mixon

One of her students and Bowie BotDawgs Robotics Team member is now considering a future in robotics.

“I definitely want to do something in my future for robotics and this has kind of taught me what this consist of,” Connor Petru. a student and robotics team member said. “I know in the future I want to do something with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and that’s all about teamwork.”

FIRST in Texas officials said the grant money doesn’t just go to create new teams, they also use the money to support 300 existing teams across the state.

The nonprofit doesn’t know which schools will receive some of the grant money, but FIRST in Texas officials said they distribute the grant money throughout the year.

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