THE Journal Insider

Drones as Competitive Flying Robots? How the REC Foundation is Expanding to Prepare Students for the Future Workforce

As education leaders around the globe call for more emphasis on STEM education, and as government statistics project millions more tech jobs than trained workers in the next decade, the REC Foundation is changing the way K–12 students learn about technology by making robotics both accessible and fun for students from every background, all over the world.

REC Foundation has been helping K–12 schools start their own VEX Robotics education programs and participate in competitions since 2008 — and over 1 million students each year now participate in more than 70 countries, about three-quarters of those coming from the United States.

The foundation is also devoted to changing the face of STEM, with programs designed to make robotics more equitable, such as the Girl Powered initiative launched in 2016. Six years later, half of all elementary school students participating in VEX Robotics teams are girls.

The Story Behind Indiana’s Wildly Successful K-12 Robotics Initiative

One state leads the nation on the number of students participating in robotics competitions, and it’s probably not the state you’d guess.

Indiana’s State Robotics Initiative reaches about 20,000 students each year, with higher levels of diversity than STEM fields usually see, and it achieved those numbers just four years after its launch in 2016.

In an interview with THE Journal, the CEO of the nonprofit behind Indiana’s initiative, TechPoint Foundation For Youth, shared its unique strategy for helping K–12 schools start robotics teams with each school’s costs staying well under under $200 — and he emphasized that built-in educator supports and an environment encouraging teams and coaches to work together were the game-changers in their strategy. Read More.

Last year, REC Foundation added a drone program and competition in Texas, and this fall it expanded to Maryland and Michigan — with more states expected to be added soon.

For this episode of THE Journal Insider podcast, editor Kristal Kuykendall visited with REC Foundation CEO Dan Mantz who explained the foundation’s recent adjustments to its mission and vision, the addition of drones, and how exciting student competitions for robotics and drone teams are helping prepare the workforce of tomorrow.

THE Journal Insider podcast explores current ed tech trends and issues impacting K–12 educators, IT professionals, instructional technologists, education leaders, and ed tech providers. Listen in as Editor Kristal Kuykendall chats with ed tech experts, educators, and industry leaders about how they are 'meeting the moment' in the U.S. public education system. Find all podcast episodes as well as K–12 ed tech news updated daily at

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Music by LemonMusicStudio from Pixabay

About the Author

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