Google Grants $10 Million to Robotics Programs for Middle Schoolers
- By Kate Lucariello
Google.org, Google's charitable arm, has granted $10 million to two nonprofit organizations to help 300,000 middle school children take part in robotics programs. The grants will go to For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and the REC Foundation (RECF).
In a blog post, Justin Steele, Google.org's director for the Americas, noted that new ideas, concepts, technology, problem solving, collaboration, and communication are important to help grow young minds, and these programs emphasize those skills.
The grant recipients' robotics programs will expose students to current technology, including AI, he wrote. But they will also help the two organizations support their communities and help build new robotics teams across the United States, "including in every state where Google has an office or data center."
The grants will also help the two organizations do outreach to rural and other students for whom opportunities may be less available to engage in such programs, he added. He noted that Google has long had a "passion for robotics," and employees have volunteered thousands of hours building such programs for youth, including those for girls. As this year marks Google's 25th birthday, the company especially wants to "support the next generation of curious minds and give back to the communities Google calls home."
FIRST's Tech Challenge teams compete in a championship event with robots they have designed, built, and coded with Java programming from a reusable platform, using Android technology. Students who participate are eligible to apply for over $80 million in college scholarships, the nonprofit said.
RECF sponsors a number of programs that "offer a direct response to workforce and industry needs with participants more likely to consider studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) beyond high school," it noted. Its competitions include robotics, AI, factory automation, and aerial drones, among others.
Read Steele's blog post to learn more.
Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.