STEM Education Resources

Nevada Commits $4M from American Rescue Plan Funds to Expanding K–12 Robotics Programs Statewide

The Nevada Department of Education on Wednesday announced that $4 million of federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds will go toward expanding access to STEM and robotics programs statewide.

The money will be invested in FIRST Nevada to help move the state education system closer to its goal of securing a robotics program in every school that serves K-12 students in Nevada, the governor’s office said in a news release. FIRST Nevada is a nonprofit working within public schools to promote robotics programs and STEAM education initiatives across Nevada.

“Providing access for our students to emerging technologies and STEM programs is essential as we recover from COVID-19 and redefine education in Nevada,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert said. “We are excited and grateful to have FIRST Nevada as a forward-thinking partner in moving us closer to our goal of ensuring each and every Nevada student is future-ready and globally prepared!”

The investment in robotics expansion aligns with the department’s Statewide Plan for the Improvement of Pupils value of Access to Quality, as well as its stated goal that “All students graduate future-ready and globally prepared for postsecondary success and civic life.”

“Inspiring Nevada’s young people to develop technology-based skills and interests will ensure not only success for our next generation, but economic vitality for the future of our State,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in the announcement. “I commend the Nevada Department of Education for establishing innovative programs and partnerships which will provide critical STEM and STEAM opportunities to our students and look forward to the expansion of FIRST Nevada programs Statewide.”

FIRST Nevada offers a number of inclusive, team-based PreK-12 robotics programs to engage students, including FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, FIRST Nevada programs were active in half of Nevada’s school districts and with more than 3,000 Nevada students and teachers participating in 270 robotics teams across the state.

The funds will help support robotics team retention post-pandemic and enable FIRST Nevada to increase the number of robotics teams in Nevada, the organization said, including providing tools, equipment, and resources to offer equitable access for students and teachers statewide.

Students who participate in FIRST programs are 2.9 times more likely to show interest in STEM, research shows, and they are 2.3 times more likely to be interested in a STEM career and 2.7 times more likely to show gains in STEM understanding. FIRST participants develop skills to become the innovators of tomorrow, such as improved problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, cooperation, time management, and strengthened communication skills.

Nevada school leaders are invited to contact Angela Quick at FIRST Nevada via email at [email protected] for information about starting a robotics program at their school.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].