Duke Energy and Yadkin County Schools announced a partnership to expand elementary and middle school robotics teams through a $3,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. These teams are proven to excite students about learning science, technology, engineering and math.
Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and stair climbing wheel chair, founded FIRST Robotics. Kamen used competitive robotics as a way to sneak up on kids and get them to love science and math without them knowing that was happening.
“Students who have struggled in math and science classes are suddenly programming robots to perform amazing tasks in a race against the clock. More importantly, they are having a great time and have no idea that they are developing a passion for learning science and math,” Dr. Todd Martin, superintendent of Yadkin County Schools, explained. “The robotics competition requires students to work as a team, solve complicated problems, present their ideas to business leaders and constantly seek ways to improve the performance of their robot. Those are essential life skills that our leading employers tell us are critical for our students to have to be successful when they graduate.
“Business involvement in this program is critical.” Martin explained, “Each team has a mentor with a technology background and a science or CTE teacher as the coach. Having a technologist as a mentor greatly enhances the experience for our students.
“This program causes students to see the usefulness of classroom learning. They use what they have learned in the classroom to solve real world problems. Many students find that student led problem solving ignites a passion for learning science and math. Being able to apply STEM knowledge is critical because the National Science Foundation reports that 80% of all jobs being created require knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math,” Martin added.
Jimmy Flythe, district manager of Duke Energy, presented a check for $3,000 from Duke Energy to support the robotics teams and development of a plan to broadly engage students from across the county in similar programs. “The skills that the students develop in this program are the same skills Duke Energy needs as we develop our future workforce,” said Flythe.
“We are deeply grateful for the contribution from the Duke Energy Foundation.” Martin explained, “We are actively seeking additional partnerships with industries from across the region. The insights from those collaborations are critical in preparing students from across this region with the knowledge and skills our major employers need.
“We believe that programs like this are critical to attract companies with high paying, skilled jobs to want to locate in this community,” Martin concluded.