When organizers at TechPoint Foundation for Youth (TPF4Y) decided in 2016 to help address Indiana’s need for more workers in the tech sector, they made a strategic decision to start young and cultivate robotics programs for elementary and middle school students. That decision has paid off as evidenced by the third annual VEX State Robotics Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium where nearly 400 teams competed last weekend.

The success and incredible growth of the elementary and middle school programs has, however, created a secondary challenge: there’s a shortage of high school level robotics teams for students to enter as they advance in their education.

In just four years, TPF4Y has grown the number of Indiana primary and middle school robotics teams by 430 percent to more than 2,100 teams. Some of those students are nearing or in high school now, where only about 200 teams await.

“We knew we were setting ourselves up for this challenge from the outset, but our hypothesis was that if we could hook young kids early, they’d have a lifelong curiosity and love for science, technology, engineering and math,” said George Giltner, TPF4Y’s Vice President of STEM Education.

To address the shortage, TPF4Y recently launched a new initiative to raise $600,000 that will be deployed to replicate its proven program in the upper grades.

George Giltner
Vice President of STEM Education, TechPoint Foundation for Youth
“Robotics is important because participation on a robotics team helps students reinforce core academic knowledge while teaching critical workforce skills like collaboration, communication and critical thinking.”

“It’s also a great way to keep girls engaged in these subjects as studies show that while girls excel in STEM subjects, their participation in them drops off in higher grades,” George says.

Costs for high school-level robotics are nearly $1,000 per team, which is three times the cost for lower grades due to the greater complexity of the robotics used.

The new fundraising effort to help fuel the high school expansion was kicked off at the VEX State Robotics Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium last weekend. See the listing below for schools that won awards and will next compete in April at the World Championships in Louisville.

The official list of winners from the third annual Vex State Robotics Championship include:

High School VRC winnners:
Iron Pride, Wawasee High School from Syracuse Indiana
Bow Tie Bot, Triton Central High School from Fairland Indiana

Middle School VRC winners:
Stands for Something, K.I.D.S. Inc. and Marion County STEM 4 H Club, Indianapolis Indiana
Cobra Kai, Park Tudor HS, Indianapolis Indiana

Middle School IQ winners – Ballard State Teamwork Challenge winners:
Jugglenauts from Apogee Robotics, Bunker Hill, Indiana
MSA Robotics from Montessori Science Academy, New Palestine, Indiana

Elementary School IQ winnersBallard State Teamwork Challenge winners:
Knock-Bots, Cornerstone Robotics from Greenwood, Indiana
Pizza Time, New Palestine Intermediate School, New Palestine, Indiana

Learn more about the TPF4Y robotics programs here: https://www.techpointyouth.org/robots

Donations and sponsors will also be sought at the TechPoint Mira Awards gala coming up on April 18, but you don’t have to wait to add your support. To learn more or to contribute, reach out to TPF4Y here: info@techpointyouth.org.

TPF4Y’s robotics program was developed with initial funding from partners such as Guggenheim Life and Annuity, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Indiana Department of Education, and long time partners and supporters, Roche Diagnostics and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

Eager to help the organization? The inaugural TinkerFest event launches  Saturday, March 28, 2020, from 10am – 5pm at the Indiana State Museum. It’s anotherhands-on, experiential learning opportunity designed to engage and inspire Indiana’s student designers, builders, coders, makers, and tinkerers in grades K-12. It’s free-of-charge for all registered student participants and will be included with museum admission for the public. Learn more about it here: www.techpointyouth.org/tinkerfest.