Governor Mike Pence and Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Commissioner Steven J. Braun announced a new partnership with TechPoint Foundation for Youth (TPF4Y) which will allow elementary schools across the state the opportunity to receive free robotics kits to use for afterschool programs. This partnership, which also includes VEX Robotics, NASA, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and the REC Foundation, will introduce Hoosier fourth and fifth grade students to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) via a first-of-its-kind robotics program for elementary school students.
“Introducing students to STEM in elementary school has a positive impact on academic performance, and increases the likelihood that they will consider pursuing STEM degrees and careers,” said Governor Pence. “This innovative program will engage thousands of young Hoosiers in STEM education and inspire our state’s science and industry leaders of tomorrow.”
All public and private elementary schools in Indiana are eligible to apply, and 400 schools will be selected for participation during the inaugural year of the program (2016-2017 school year), with an additional 400 schools being selected during the 2017-2018 school year.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting opportunity to expose more young Hoosiers to the hands-on learning that robotics programming provides,” said Laura Dodds, Executive Director of TPF4Y. “The Governor’s commitment to building the STEM workforce pipeline is a real investment in our workforce of tomorrow and enables educators to prepare students for the state’s current and future in-demand jobs.”
The new statewide program builds upon the successful Indy-VRC program. IndyVRC was established in 2013, under the guidance of former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, and sought to expose more Indianapolis high school students to STEM education. Due to the success of the robotics programs in Marion County, DWD and TPF4Y are confident this model can be replicated and scaled to serve elementary school students statewide.
“Indiana DWD was eager to partner with these visionaries in the STEM world,” said Commissioner Steven J. Braun. “The program will help to create a comprehensive STEM program that will inspire the next generation of Hoosier innovators. As someone who comes from the tech sector, I am thrilled to see Hoosier students being introduced to STEM in new and unique ways. It is not only vital to the future of our state and our workforce, but also expands the futures of these young Hoosiers.”
Utilizing funding appropriated by the General Assembly for innovations in career and technical education and workforce development, the goal of the program is to build top-notch STEM programs across the state that excite and inspire students to pursue high-wage, high-demand career paths in STEM fields.
For more information on the application process, contact George Giltner at [email protected].