Giving Tuesday 2018

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.
On November 27th, give thanks by giving back with a donation to TPF4Y.

From students, to volunteers, to teachers, to schools...

TPF4Y programs unite everyone in our mission to inspire underserved students
to become the future leaders of our state's STEM workforce.

But don't just take our word for it.


"I like the robotics team because I get to be an engineer. I feel more confident. I've learned that teamwork is better than doing things alone."
- Emma, 5th Grade Student

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“I’ve learned how to work with my team better. Robotics helps me learn to build because I want to become an engineer. I’ve learned to try new things at life.”
- Nate, 5th Grade Student

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“Robotics is very educational. I learn how to have good teamwork. It is fun because you can work with others. I feel more confident at school because I can help others with building.”
- Jarrah, 5th Grade Student


“It is so important to invest our time as volunteers into our youth.  Many of our kids do not have positive outlets for their creativity and being a part of the robotics team is giving allowing them to develop skill not only in robotics, but also in problem solving.  I have seen an increase in curiosity and drive in the students who take part in this program.  Kids are working together to better themselves, and it is bringing together groups of students who may otherwise not interact with each other.  It is awesome to watch!!”
- Joanna Schnepp, Volunteer


“Students crave attention from adults, and when they see teachers or community members volunteering to spend time with them as they showcase their skills, it excites them. It lets them know that people care about them and want them to have opportunities to better their future. It is my hope that it inspires them to also volunteer when they are older and show kindness to others through their actions.”
- Heather Rumple, Volunteer

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"The knowledge I gained at the TechPoint Foundation training allows me to support my students as they build, collaborate, and problem solve this competition season. The training reinforced the goals and vision set for my team and allowed me the forum to ask questions from trainers as well as receive tips and advice from experts in the field. Thanks to the training, I am able to teach my team how to delegate responsibilities, analyze problems, experiment with solutions, and document progress.”
- Jennifer Moore, Teacher & Robotics Coach

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“I appreciate the training I received from TechPoint Foundation for Youth. Everyone was patient in explaining how the robot works, how to get my team together and what a successful season should look like for a first year, second year team. We are now in our third year and I continue to be thankful for the support, trainings offered, and quick responses to questions that come up. The robotics program here at Mississinewa all began with a grant from TechPoint Foundation for Youth. The ways this program has impacted students is unbelievable. Students who were once so shy are finding a voice. Those that really didn't care to come to school are finding excitement in learning the world of robotics. Others are gaining confidence, making friends, and having fun while learning to collaborate.”
- Alysha Scott, Teacher & Robotics Coach

“The TechPoint Foundation for Youth's robotics grants have helped us to foster change in the way we view student programs.  Through robotics education, we are now able to serve a sector of our student population that has been overlooked in the past.  Our building climate is now more inclusive and we are proud to be able to partner with TechPoint Foundation to offer students with interests in technology and engineering a fresh approach to STEM education.”
- Amanda Varner, Assistant Principal

“I really can’t think of a better way to drive the future of life sciences in Central Indiana than to support TechPoint Foundation for Youth's work with STEM initiatives like VEX robotics. We at Roche are so proud of the legacy we helped build in Indianapolis more than 7 years ago with the launch of the IndyVRC and are thrilled with the statewide growth TPF4Y has achieved over the past few years.”
- Carole Puls, Roche Diagnostics

So mark your calendars and celebrate Giving Tuesday on November 27th with a gift to TPF4Y
to support STEM programs for Indiana students!

Click here to make your gift now!

2nd Annual CoderDojo Indiana Hackathon!

On your mark… get set… code! On July 28th, CoderDojo Indiana (CDI), an initiative of TechPoint Foundation for Youth, hosted the second annual CoderDojo Indiana Hackathon. This free, kids coding event engaged more than 80 student “code ninjas” from around Indiana in a full day of computer science, food, and fun!


The day began with an opening ceremony led by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett at 9am. Then, experienced code ninjas chose from three exciting challenges: Scratch, Python, or GameCraft. Each ninja had 5.5 hours to earn point by programming solutions to different prompts given in each challenge - the more difficult the challenge, the more points they earned.


Meanwhile, beginner ninjas had the chance to attend #MyFirstDojo, where kids were able to try out a variety of hands-on CS activities using Makey Makey, Sphero, VEX IQ Robots, and more.


The day concluded at 4pm with awards and prizes for kids in every category. Thanks to our friends at Raspberry Pi Foundation, we were able to provide an amazing prize for our Scratch and Python Challenge Excellence winners: travel stipends to attend Coolest Projects North America in Santa Ana, California, this September. Deesha Roopesh of Carmel and Christopher Wang of Fort Wayne will both travel to this national event to represent Indiana later this year.

Want to join your local Dojo? Email for information!

2018 Summer Fun with Technology!


Most of the time, parents bemoan the amount of time kids spend staring at screens or looking at mobile apps. For two weeks this summer, that was a little different for 60+ kids who participated in one of TPF4Y's goIT Technology Camps!

goIT is an experiential, immersive technology education program developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to demystify computer science and help students gain the skills and confidence required to pursue STEM degrees—and become tomorrow’s technology leaders. Thanks to TCS, these week-long camps as well as the volunteer training, were provided for free by TPF4Y.


“We are living in an age where kids have easy access to technology, whether that be through mobile phones, laptops, tablets, or otherwise. Our kids are very capable of understanding how to use these technologies, but not how to leverage them in improving their communities,” said Dennis Ma, Technology Specialist at TCS. “It's important for students to learn about technology at a young age and to be exposed to jobs and career paths that they might not know exist. We need to prepare our students to take on [the jobs of the future].”

In June and July, TPF4Y led a coalition of partners, including Salesforce.Org, Tata Consultancy Services, DREAM Alive, Direct Employers, Propel Up, and more, to host two goIT technology camps. More than 60 central Indiana students were able to participate in the program, which was mentored by local software development professionals.


"Here at DirectEmployers Institute, it is our mission to bring learning to life for our students. Programs like goIT... support our mission and are a perfect fit for [our] students, as teaching them about robotics and technology enables them to uncover both the hard and soft skills they weren’t previously aware of, allowing them to realize their full potential," said Kristabell Gichina of Direct Employer.

As part of these camps, students explored different technology careers, learned how to code using MIT App Inventor, and then worked on small teams to design, build, and present their first mobile application. While designing their apps, students were encouraged to brainstorm around solutions to real problems in their lives. Finished prototypes included a mental health awareness and education app, a fresh food access map targeted at users living in food deserts, and more. Some students even had the opportunity to work on their projects inside the Salesforce offices downtown, assisted by local developers!

Overall, more than 25 volunteers came together to mentor students during the two camps.


"PropelUp is all about connecting people to the relevant resources they need to learn throughout their lifetime," says Nick Birch, Co-Founder of PropelUp. "So the goIT program was a great initiative for our team to participate in because it allowed us to help high schoolers practice some of the skills and mindsets professional 'problem solvers,' aka software developers and designers, utilize in the real world."

We were excited to partner with Tata Consultancy Services to create this opportunity for Indiana kids and look forward to hosting more goIT camps next summer!

Want to learn how you can make an impact? Contact to get involved!

May the 4th Be With You!

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TPF4Y's 3rd annual signature fundraising event, May the 4th Be With You, was our biggest one yet, with over 350 people in attendance! Thanks to all you Star Wars fans, our total profit was nearly $10,000, which will help us inspire Indiana students hoping to become the next Galen Erso with exciting STEM programs.

This year's festivities included:

  • Lightsaber Training with the Jedi masters of Indy Lightsaber Academy
  • Build-Your-Own Lightsaber - take home your very own laser sword!
  • Lightsaber Duel performed by the Jedi masters of Indy Lightsaber Academy
  • Stormtrooper Shootout - use a nerf blaster to defeat the Dark Side!
  • Droid Driving Competition - maneuver a VEX IQ robot through an obstacle course faster than your opponent!
  • R2D2 Test Drive - drive a mini R2D2 robot around a field using a remote control!
  • Tatooine Tattoo Station - airbrush tattoos of your favorite Star Wars characters
  • Star Wars Caricatures - picture yourself as your favorite Star Wars character
  • Space-Themed Chalk Art Performance by Ben Glenn, the Chalk Guy
  • Jedi Trivia - with Lucas Films authorized questions
  • Admiral Ackbar's Art Station - artistically interpret your version of Star Wars in this coloring activity
  • Photo Booth - get your picture taken with official Star Wars Indiana characters
  • Jar Jar Binks Build - use your imagination to create a starship or extraterrestrial out of LEGOS
  • Greedo's Gaming Corner - test your survival skills in these Star Wars video games
  • Force Fashion Costume Contest - channel your inner Star Wars persona & win a trophy!
  • (Inter)stellar Raffle - win some cool Star Wars themed items to take home with you

The Mos Eisley Cantina, sponsored by our partners at Sun King Brewing Company, was stocked with plenty of beer, wine, soft drinks, and juice, and a ClusterTruck taco/nacho bar kept everyone fed and happy! 

Check out the slideshow of pictures to relive all the excitement!

Thanks for all those who participated this year - we're excited to have you back (with friends!) next year! Until then, may the Force be with you...

Fun STEM Summer Camps!

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Looking for a way to get your children involved in STEM learning during the summer months? We've pulled together a list of summer camps that will have them learning about science, technology, engineering, and math - all in a fun, hands-on environment!

The below camps offer single day or week-long options (some are full-day, some half-day), vary in age range and cost, and touch on a wide assortment of topics and themes for any STEM-loving student!




Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab Summer Camps
Location: Marian University - Indianapolis
     Grade: K - 8th
     Cost: $240 per week

Your child can bring science to life in new, different and fun ways each and everyday through hands-on activities and experiments!

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Science Central Summer Camps
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Grade: K - 8th
Cost: $30 - $150

Channel your child's inner astronaut, doctor, architect, scientist, engineer or detective with these single day or week-long camps!

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INSpace Camps
Location: Carmel, Greenwood
Grade: 4th - 12th
Cost: $275 per week

Open the door to advanced technologies that will shape the way your student looks at the future. Students get hands on by flying drones, programming, edge of space launches, airplane rides, and a lot more. Students should pack a brown bag lunch each day. Before and after care are available for additional fee. 

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The STEM Connection Summer Camps
Location: Moore Road Farm - Indianapolis
Grade: K - 6th
     Cost: $200 per week

Help your kids reconnect with nature! Located on a beautiful 30 acre farm in Pike Township, the STEM Connection Summer Camp helps students make connections between STEM learning and the natural world.



Butler iDTech Camps
Location: Butler University - Indianapolis
Grade: 2nd - 12th
Cost: $829 - $1,229 per week

This week-long camp offers courses for every interest in a well-balanced, fun environment! Check out the programs on Coding, Game Development, Design, and Robotics!


Codelicious Summer Camps
Location: Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis
Grade: 3rd - 12th
Cost: $75 - $295 per week

Codelicious offers a variety of fun summer coding camps ideal for kids of all different experience levels. They also offer classes year round for kids 8 and up!

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Computer Science Summer Camp
Location: Purdue University - West Lafayette
Grade: 6th - 11th
Cost: $400 - $600

This overnight camp takes students on an adventure with computer science! A student participating in this camp will gain hands-on experience with programming, algorithms, and problem solving. No previous computer science or programming expertise is necessary, but campers should be comfortable using a computer.

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Indy STEM Camps
Location: Avon, Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis, Noblesville, Zionsville
Grade: 1st - 8th
Cost: $150 - $160 per week

Did someone say Minecraft? Check out Indy STEM Camp's roster of fun summer camp themes with locations throughout Indianapolis.


Microsoft Store Workshops
Location: Fashion Mall - Indianapolis
Grade: 3rd & up
Cost: Free

Students have a chance to learn from professionals at the Microsoft store while they participate in FREE workshops, camps, events, and field trips!



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Bricks 4 Kids Camp
Location: Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis, Noblesville
Grade: PreK - 6th
Cost: $139 - $265 per week

Bricks 4 Kidz Camp offers kids an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of science, engineering, and architecture as they use LEGOs to build various projects!

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Camp Invention
Location: Central Indiana
Grade: K - 6th
Cost: $225 - $245 per week

From becoming a "Robotic Pet Vet" to designing their own futuristic smart home, check out Camp Invention's roster of fun summer camp themes with locations throughout Indianapolis.

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Engineering for Kids Camps
Location: Fishers, Indianapolis, Zionsville
Grade: K - 8th
Cost: $155 - $400 per week

Engineering... in the form of robotics, video game design, 3D printing, and more... for kids!

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Location: Sidener Academy - Indianapolis
Grade: 1st - 8th
Cost: $150 - $300 per week

FIRSTEP is a summer camp for kids curious about robotics, engineering, building, working with their hands, and willing to have fun with other students! The camp engages students in mentor-based experiments and hands-on projects that motivate innovation and foster an environment where learning is fun and engaging and anyone can be successful.


IU Northwest STEM Camp
Location: Gary, IN
Grade: 9th - 12th
Cost: Free

Explore topics in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) including computer information systems and informatics. Have fun and see how exciting a STEM career can be during this 3 day camp. Includes all materials, supplies, and free lunch.

POWER (Preparing Outstanding Women for Engineering Roles) Summer Camp
Location: IUPUI (School of Engineering & Technology) - Indianapolis
Grade: 9th - 12th
     Cost: $400 per week

Explore engineering with other young women your age through hands-on experiences at the POWER Summer Camp!



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BizTown Summer Camp
Location: Junior Achievement - Indianapolis
Grade: 4th - 8th
Cost: $195 - $250 per week

It's all the fun of Biztown, for five days in row! Give your kids a chance to learn more about business, entrepreneurship, and more with our friends at Junior Achievement.

Inaugural Pi Day Celebration Impacts 260 Students

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On March 14th, TPF4Y hosted our first official celebration of Pi Day! Pi Day is celebrated annually by mathematics fanatics around the globe as the day’s date (3.14) bears a striking resemblance to pi, the mathematical constant used in computing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

Thanks to a generous gift from OneAmerica, TPF4Y was able to purchase several Math Pentathlon game boards which will be used during future Pi Day celebrations and also each summer when we partner with community sites for special one-time enrichment opportunities.

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TPF4Y worked with Washington Irving School 14, Eliza A. Blaker School 55, and New Augusta Public Academy - South to commemorate Pi Day 2018 by organizing opportunities for students to play fun Math Pentathlon board games with local professionals.

In all, 41 volunteers contributed their time to ensure that Pi Day 2018 was a great success, from our partners at Kronos, DeveloperTown, First Internet Bank, Clean Slate TG, Randrr, Appirio, and Salesforce.

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While Pi Day has passed for this year, we are still looking for volunteers to help facilitate Math Pentathlon games for students this summer and during the Fall 2018 semester.

Want to learn more? Think you might be able to help?


2018 Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship


The largest robotics state championship in the country took place on Saturday, March 10th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, hosted by TechPoint Foundation for Youth's State Robotics Initiative (SRI). Almost 300 Indiana  elementary, middle, and high school teams spent the day competing for the opportunity to advance to this year's VEX Robotics World Competition being held in Louisville, Kentucky, at the end of April.


In addition to the nearly 1,900 robotics matches occurring on 50 different robotics fields throughout the day, an interactive STEM Fair took place that allowed students to explore STEM activities facilitated by corporate partners and institutes of higher education. 20 booths inspired more than 400 students through hands-on activities - and it was free to participate.

Thanks to top level sponsors Guggenheim Life and Annuity, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Roche Diagnostics, and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation as well as additional supporting sponsors, the event was a huge success with more than 10,000 people in attendance. 

"This event was truly a milestone in our efforts with the State Robotics Initiative, and we were absolutely thrilled to put on a great event celebrating the success of Indiana robotics students," said State Director of Robotics, George Giltner, "With that being said, our work with the SRI will not be complete until every student in Indiana has access to a robotics program. We are looking forward to further expanding the impact of the initiative in the coming year."

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Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who opened the event at the welcoming ceremony, proclaimed March 10th as Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship Day, in celebration of the event as well as the overall 225% increase in VEX Robotics teams the state has seen over the past two years, which is due in large part to the SRI. 

The SRI grant program has helped to start more than 500 VEX IQ elementary school teams since 2016 and will be opening the grant to eligible Indiana middle schools in April, with plans to start another 350 teams.

Due to the unprecedented growth of VEX IQ teams in Indiana, the state was awarded 95 qualifying spots for the 2018 World Competition - more than any state in the U.S. The 95 Indiana teams competing at Worlds will be matched up against 1,576 teams from over 30 countries in Louisville, Kentucky, from April 25th - May 1st. 


Here is a highlight video from the State Championship! 


Looking for pictures of your team from the event? Click here to look through all of our photos on Flickr and check out a sampling of pictures from the event below!

State Championship Award winners

The following awards qualify teams for Worlds. 


Mayor Hogsett Proclaims Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship Day!

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TechPoint Foundation For Youth (TPF4Y) is thrilled to announce the proclamation of Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship Day with Mayor Joe Hogsett and the City of Indianapolis. Observance of this day is in celebration of the inaugural state championship event that will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, March 10, 2018, and will be the largest robotics state championship in the country, gathering the top 300 Indiana  teams from elementary, middle, and high schools across the state.

“We are excited about the unprecedented growth of robotics in Indiana,” said State Robotics Director, George Giltner. “It's unbelievable to think that in just two short years we have gone from 413 VEX teams in the state, to more than 1,300 - a 225% increase - and now we have robots taking over Lucas Oil Stadium. As you can imagine, this is exciting progress for TechPoint Foundation for Youth because we know these increased numbers mean more kids doing more hands-on, inspirational STEM at school.”

This growth in the number of Indiana VEX Robotics teams is attributed to the State Robotics Initiative, a comprehensive grant program developed by TPF4Y with initial funding from partners such as Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Guggenheim Life and Annuity, Herbert Simon Family Foundation, and long time partners Roche Diagnostics and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. Since 2016, TPF4Y has provided grants, professional development, and now, the largest state robotics competition in the country for Indiana schools and students.

Mayor Joe Hogsett also emphasized the importance of the event: “With a scale that is unmatched across the country, the Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship provides educational opportunities to hundreds of students from across the state. It is an honor to host this event at Lucas Oil Stadium right here in Indianapolis – a city whose nationally-recognized culture of innovation is propelling our growth and success,” said the Mayor.

In addition to celebrating the City of Indianapolis’ observation of Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship Day on March 10th, TPF4Y is also announcing the expansion of the State Robotics Initiative during the 2018-19 school year to serve not only elementary schools across the state, but also eligible middle schools through 2020. TPF4Y will continue to rely on the generosity of its public, corporate, and philanthropic partners to bring this impactful STEM program to Indiana students.

"We are thrilled to see the growth of VEX Competitions in Indiana,” said Dan Mantz, CEO of the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, which oversees all VEX Competition teams and events. "We value the visionary leaders across the state who partner to increase students’ STEM engagement through VEX Competitions and look forward to seeing the impact of the middle school expansion.”

The Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship is free and open to the public and will include an interactive STEM Fair featuring hands-on activities hosted by local and national companies, institutes of higher education, and community partners who are inspiring the next generation of Indiana STEM talent. To learn more, visit the event webpage.

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About the State Robotics Initiative, a program of TechPoint Foundation for Youth
The State Robotics Initiative was developed by TPF4Y to provide a hands-on, STEM learning experience to Indiana students through an economical, entry level robotics platform proven to engage diverse student populations in comprehensive STEM subject matter and spur student interest in STEM college and career pathways. The program was developed in 2016 as a statewide expansion of the City Of Indianapolis VEX Robotics grant program, a legacy of former Mayor Greg Ballard. For more information, please visit

About TechPoint Foundation For Youth
As the leader in technology education efforts for the state of Indiana since 2001, TechPoint Foundation for Youth is committed to inspiring our state's underserved K-12 students to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). And to us, that means connecting ideas, investments, industry, and individuals to exemplary programs that inspire students to pursue careers in STEM fields.  For more information, please visit

Join Our Team as an AmeriCorps VISTA!


Since August 2014, TPF4Y has hosted 1-3 VISTA members each year who have dedicated their time to the growth and sustainability of our programs. Our VISTAs are an invaluable asset to the work we do and many of our successes, as well as the improvements and changes we continue to implement, are a direct result of their work!

TPF4Y is looking for three new VISTAs to start in June 2018 and help us to grow our impact. Our VISTAs play a key role in ensuring that underserved students continue to have access to experiential STEM learning opportunities. Check out the positions below and share with your network! We can’t wait to welcome these three new members to our team:

STEM Program Coordinator (click here to learn more & apply!)

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This VISTA member will expand and strengthen TPF4Y’s math and science programs including STEM Partners, Math Pentathlon, and more. This position will play a key role in maintaining relationships with schools, volunteers, and community partners. This VISTA will also assist with the implementation of our volunteer development plan and help develop a sustainability plan!


CoderDojo Indiana Coordinator (click here to learn more & apply!)


This VISTA member will be in charge of expanding our CoderDojo Indiana initiative with the support of our Program Manager. He or she will identify new program sites, recruit and train volunteers, and assist with the creation and distribution of new training materials for CoderDojo “Champions.” An outgoing, talkative individual with great people skills and the ability to speak to groups will excel in this role.


State Robotics Coordinator (click here to learn more & apply!)

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This VISTA member will help us to grow and maintain our State Robotics Initiative (SRI) as the number of VEX IQ robotics teams in Indiana reaches 1,000+! SRI has provided hundreds of Indiana elementary schools with VEX IQ robotics kits over the past two years. This VISTA will help to manage a diversity grant and inclusion program, assist with external communication to robotics educators and partners, and work to develop strategies to sustain the growth of youth robotics in Indiana.

AmeriCorps VISTA members live and serve in some of our nation's poorest urban and rural areas. With passion, commitment, and hard work, they create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Want to learn more about becoming a VISTA? Visit the AmeriCorps VISTA FAQ page.

Questions? Contact Courtney@TechPointYouth.Org!

Powderkeg & DoubleMap Donate $3,780 to CoderDojo Indiana!

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Powderkeg is pleased to announce that it has selected CoderDojo Indiana, an initiative of TechPoint Foundation for Youth, as the recipient of its end-of-year event donation. For the past several years, Powderkeg has chosen to support a local or global nonprofit by donating a percentage of every ticket sold to their final pitch night of the year. This year, Powderkeg donated $10 of every ticket sold to their Holiday Pitch Night, which took place on Tuesday, December 12th at the HI-FI, for a donation of $1,890. Powderkeg asked their community to help them select the beneficiary this year, tapping them to submit recommendations for the causes they are most passionate about.

“We’re so grateful to be able to support the work that CoderDojo is doing to advance computer programming education in Indiana and around the world,” said Matt Hunckler, CEO of Powderkeg. “Our members are changing the world with their innovative companies, and we know that one of the best ways to make an impact is to engage our communities locally. The Powderkeg movement started right here in Indianapolis and it’s important to us to support programs like CoderDojo Indiana that make our home city great.”

Powderkeg’s donation has been generously matched by local transportation tech company DoubleMap, increasing the total donation to $3,780.

Final Powderkeg pitch night of 2017, which took place at the HI-FI.

Final Powderkeg pitch night of 2017, which took place at the HI-FI.

“CoderDojo Indiana plays an important role in our community by introducing programming to young people at an influential time in their lives,” said Ilya Rekhter, Co-Founder & CEO at DoubleMap. “DoubleMap is proud to join Powderkeg in supporting CoderDojo Indiana, and we invite other companies to join us in supporting computer science education in our state.”

This year’s recipient, CoderDojo Indiana (CDI), is a regional partnership that supports and funds free computer science education for Indiana kids. CoderDojo was founded in 2011 in Ireland by tech entrepreneur Bill Liao and aspiring developer James Whelton. Earlier this year, Powderkeg hosted a fireside chat with Bill, where he spoke to more than 200 people about the incredible growth of the CoderDojo movement in Indiana and his thoughts on the importance of coding clubs for kids.

CoderDojo coding clubs engage kids ages 7-17 in hands-on games and activities that get them excited about computer science and inspire them to consider tech or development career paths. Since 2015, the number of CoderDojos in Indiana has grown from four clubs in central Indiana to 37 clubs around the state; Indiana is now the state with the largest number of CoderDojos in the country.

“TechPoint Foundation for Youth is proud of the rapid growth and popularity of the CoderDojo Indiana initiative,” said Laura Dodds, Executive Director of TPF4Y. “Introducing students to basic coding concepts through exciting activities with the support of adult volunteers allows students to not only accelerate their interest in computer science, but also introduces them to adults who have careers in that field.”

During Computer Science Education Week, which ran from December 4th - 8th, CDI engaged 177 volunteers to facilitate Hour of Code activities for 1,200 students. This is the fourth year that TechPoint Foundation for Youth has orchestrated Hour of Code during CS Ed Week, increasing impact each year. Five schools from IPS and Pike Township hosted volunteers throughout the week and activities ranged in subject from Minecraft to Angry Birds.

CDI provides Indiana Dojos with grant opportunities and trainings, and hosts events for volunteers and students. The second annual CoderDojo Indiana Hackathon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, and is open to any students looking to learn more about computer science. For more information on this event and to receive registration details when they become available, please visit

Hour of Code Reaches 1,200 Students!

TPF4Y board member and DeveloperTown employee Jon Nolen works with a student at IPS School #55.

TPF4Y board member and DeveloperTown employee Jon Nolen works with a student at IPS School #55.

The week of December 4th - 8th, CoderDojo Indiana, a TPF4Y initiative, facilitated Hour of Code at five IPS and Pike Township schools in order to celebrate Computer Science Education Week for the fourth year in a row. CS Ed Week is a worldwide, grassroots campaign to encourage as many K-12 students as possible (over 497 million so far!) to participate in an Hour of Code activity. Students around the globe are encouraged to try their hand at coding by completing one of’s introductory activities. We invited the students we worked with to try CodeCombat (for middle schoolers) and Minecraft or Angry Birds (for elementary schoolers).

Students work together on an Hour of Code activity.

Students work together on an Hour of Code activity.

"Technology and coding are lacing their way through more and more of our lives every day," said volunteer Nick Birch of PropelUp. "Our kids are growing up as part of a generation where understanding the basics of coding, the language of computers, will be as important as understanding spoken language between humans. Learning to code will open doors for these kids that don't even yet exist."

TPF4Y partnered with Harshman Magnet Middle School, IPS Schools #14, #15, #55, and New Augusta Public Academy South to expose students to the world of computer science. Some of the students had experienced Hour of Code in the past, while it was a new experience for others. 

"I'm so thankful I was able to spend some of my work week helping kids at my local neighborhood school learn to code," said volunteer Amanda Brinkman of Appirio. "It's amazing what the Indy community is doing to help bridge the skill gap for future generations. Thanks to CoderDojo Indiana for organizing & Appirio for the VTO!"

Salesforce employee Will Brooks answers a question for a student.

Salesforce employee Will Brooks answers a question for a student.

Thanks to over 170 volunteers provided by multiple corporate partners, we were able to impact more than 1,200 students over the course of the week.

"We are so proud of the growth we've seen with our Hour of Code efforts," said Courtney Lambert, Program Manager for TPF4Y. "Combined, we've introduced 3,111 students to coding activities over the past four years, just during CS Ed Week. And we're looking forward to continuing to grow our reach next year."

While Hour of Code has wrapped up for this year, our CoderDojo Indiana initiative is always looking for dedicated volunteers passionate about bringing computer science to underserved students. Currently, there are 37 CoderDojos in Indiana and we are in need of volunteers at several clubs in Indianapolis as well as throughout the state. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering at a CoderDojo club, please complete this form and we'll contact you with more information!


4th Annual #GivingTuesday Event!


TPF4Y kicked off our 4th annual #GivingTuesday on November 28th with holiday cheer, plenty of beer, and a couple rounds of trivia! This year, we partnered with Sun King Brewing Company to host simultaneous trivia nights:

  • 90s Trivia at their downtown headquarters
  • The Office Trivia at their Fishers-based taproom
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Eighteen teams participated in the fun and Sun King donated $1 from every pint sold to TPF4Y! 

Thanks to our trivia participants and generous donors, we more than doubled our $2,500 goal, raising a total of $5,830 to support access to high-impact STEM programming for Indiana students! 

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. 


#GivingTuesday harnesses the collective power of a group of individuals within the community to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

We look forward to seeing you at next year's #GivingTuesday event!

54 Indiana Teachers Receive Classroom STEM Grants

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TechPoint Foundation for Youth is pleased to announce the winners of the EnablINg STEM Fall 2017 Grant Cycle, which was open to all Indiana kindergarten through 8th grade classroom teachers in schools with a free and reduced price lunch percentage of 55% or greater. This competitive grant program provides grant dollars to teachers to support the purchase of supplies and equipment that enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in the classroom. Applications were evaluated based on their ability to implement hands-on, project-based STEM programming, while also focusing on the use of resources that could extend beyond the school year, had clearly defined outcomes, and had an emphasis on student STEM engagement.

The following 54 teacher projects from 28 Indiana communities were selected from among 119 applications to receive up to $500 in grant dollars totaling nearly $25,000 in funding from this grant cycle:

  • Emmalena Rios, St. John Bosco
  • Jamie Paino, Claypool Elementary School
  • Tricia Sederholm, Peru Junior High School
  • Matthew Geiger, 10th Street Elementary School
  • Jon Metz, Harshman Magnet Middle School
  • Terry Ward, Frankton Elementary School
  • Michelle Smelser, Mary Castle Elementary
  • Angela Weeks, Deer Meadow Primary
  • Rebeccah Dyer, Henry W. Longfellow Medical STEM Middle School
  • Sarah Dunham, Elwood Intermediate School
  • Miranda Figert, Acron Elementary School
  • Chi Chi Bardell, Montessori Garden Academy
  • Jacqueline Scott, Hayden Elementary School
  • Sarah Archer, Chapelwood Elementary School
  • Rachel Nesbit, Blue Academy
  • Tracy Nicodemus, Hay Primary Center
  • Amy Hartung, Pleasant Run Elementary School
  • Leigh Barnes, John Simatovich Elementary School
  • Marjorie Alberson, Willard Elementary School
  • Amanda Moore, Sunny Heights Elementary School
  • Emily Brooks, Pleasant Hill Elementary School
  • Jordan Weldon, Sunnyside Elementary School
  • Jeremy Hughes, Hayden Elementary School
  • Cynthia Fish, Liberty Elementary School
  • Roza Selvey, Southside Middle School
  • Jane Jones, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
  • Kara Sedam, Canaan Community Academy
  • Carol Blake, Laurel School
  • Shannon Hudson, Crawfordsville Middle School
  • Jillian Gudenschwager, Flint Lake Elementary School
  • Apryl Kidd, Hatfield Elementary School
  • Jennifer McGillem, North Wayne Elementary School
  • Allison Case, Bridgeport
  • Tonya Wass, Austin Elementary School
  • Kendra Guerrero, Pleasant Run Elementary School
  • Shannon Howell, Alexandria Monroe Intermediate School
  • Amy Mihalich, Cold Spring School
  • Jennifer Bartram, Webb Elementary School
  • Bryan Beeler, Milan Middle School
  • XaViera Ellinger, Montessori Garden Academy
  • April Wolf, Dayton Elementary School
  • Trisha Montgomery, Cold Spring School
  • Angela Hale, Meredith Nicholson Elementary School
  • Jackie Secrest, Northeast North Academy
  • Dave Shafer, Skiles Test School of STEM
  • Sherri Barnes, Guion Creek Elementary School
  • Katherine Brown, Guion Creek Elementary School
  • Beth Walenga, Lincoln Elementary School
  • David Nelson, Indian Creek Elementary School
  • Matthew Perkins, H. L. Harshman Magnet Middle School
  • Jamie Boxler, Monon Trail Elementary School
  • Sue DeLong, Clinton Prairie Elementary School
  • Ruthann Copeland, Cold Spring School
  • Shannon Shrader, Taylor Elementary School

Chosen projects ranged in topic from shark dissections and Rube Goldberg projects, to gardening and makerspaces. Teachers could request between $75 and $500 per project, with the majority of grantees receiving between $400 and $500.

Thanks to a $10,000 matching donation from Angie’s List Foundation and the generosity of the attendees at this year’s TechPoint Mira Awards Gala for funding this round of classroom projects!

iDEW Program Wins National STEM Mentoring Award

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 10, 2017) – This morning, US2020, in collaboration with Co-Founding Sponsors Chevron and Tata Consultancy Services, announced the winners of the 2017 STEM Mentoring Awards. At the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., US2020 will recognize the award winners for their exceptional work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) mentoring.

The STEM Mentoring Awards & Symposium is a national field-building event that will engage leaders from the public, private, and social sectors. Attendees will discuss policies and practices to institutionalize STEM mentoring, explore exemplary program models and common challenges, and learn about the launch of US2020’s new national challenge designed to catalyze cross-sector partnerships that increase the quantity and quality of STEM volunteerism and maker-centered learning across the country.

Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is a 2017 winner in the category of Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships for their Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) program. Designed and managed by the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, the iDEW program prepares underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged high school students in Indiana for informatics and computing careers.

“The iDEW program specifically addresses diversity in computing in the STEM fields by implementing innovative curricular and co-curricular activities throughout a four-year high school program. Our early data already shows the huge impact of iDEW, as most of the graduates of the program are pursuing two-year and four-year college degrees in STEM areas,” said iDEW Program Director and School of Informatics and Computing Executive Associate Dean Mathew J. Palakal.

Momentum in the field was evident as over 150 organizations participated in this year’s award series. “We are thrilled to see the variety and quality of organizations and companies submitting applications to the 2017 STEM Mentoring Awards,” said Nick Hutchinson, Executive Director of US2020. “Quality, skills-based mentorship is uniquely positioned to address the barriers to STEM access and achievement and has been shown to provide academic and emotional benefits for students, particularly at-risk youth.”

President Obama issued a call to action, illuminating the need to engage more STEM professionals as mentors at the 2013 White House Science Fair. US2020 answered that call with their City Competition, which challenged communities to develop plans to increase the scale and quality of mentorship between professionals working in STEM and students underrepresented in those fields. Fifty-two cities from across the U.S. applied, with seven selected as winning cities; Indianapolis was one of them.

As the coalition lead for the City of Indianapolis, TechPoint Foundation for Youth (TPF4Y) has been managing the initiative since it launched in August 2014, with the help of more than 50 corporate, community, and program partners. During the past three years of the initiative, TPF4Y has engaged almost 400 volunteers in hands-on STEM programs impacting more than 2,300 Indianapolis students.

“The STEM Mentoring Awards are a wonderful way to further recognize the important work being done by the US2020 City Network and our multitude of partners,” said Laura Dodds, Executive Director of TechPoint Foundation for Youth. “The iDEW program’s targeted focus on engaging diverse student populations is something that resonates both with our Foundation’s mission and with the needs of our state’s talent pipeline. We are so proud that they have been recognized on the national stage for their important work.”

The third annual US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards included five award categories. Applications were evaluated by a cross-sector panel of distinguished judges. This year’s winners are:

About Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI: The Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing is the first school of its kind in the nation, connecting people to information and transforming the way they work, live, and play. Our school’s unique interdisciplinary approach, innovative degree programs, world-class faculty, and inclusive environment prepare students for careers that will shape the future of information technology and computing. We are committed to building a smarter IT workforce through programs in human-centered computing, bio-health informatics, library science, data science, and media arts and science.

About TechPoint Foundation for Youth: TechPoint Foundation for Youth is committed to inspiring our state's underserved K-12 students to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We believe that our youth should be equipped to address Indiana's growing demand for a skilled workforce.


Are Indiana Schools Committed to Offering STEM Opportunities to Students?

Did you know that Indiana employers estimate that there are 2.5 jobs available for every 1 STEM-skilled job seeker? By next year, there will be 1.2 million unfilled jobs nationally in the STEM workforce. Rapidly growing fields like Software Development, Computers Systems Analytics, & Engineering are creating far more jobs than there are job-seekers with the skill-set to fill them.

Here at TechPoint Foundation for Youth, our focus is to ensure Indiana's K-12 students have access to learning opportunities that will inspire the pursuit of STEM careers. Our programs remove the barriers which result in students’ loss of interest in STEM and lack of understanding of existing career opportunities.

The Robot Pirates of Parkwood Elementary School gather around the field before a match.

The Robot Pirates of Parkwood Elementary School gather around the field before a match.

One of our fastest growing programs, the State Robotics Initiative (SRI) provides elementary schools the resources needed to launch a robotics program, including a VEX IQ Robotics Kit, teacher training, and ongoing support for sustainability. Robotics teaches young students valuable STEM skills and develops crucial 21st Century workforce qualities such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication.  Additionally, robotics offers opportunities to students who aren’t necessarily interested in more conventional, and readily available, extracurricular activities like athletics or the arts.

The first year of the SRI was highly successful! The number of Indiana VEX IQ elementary teams grew from 70 to over 500 teams, reaching more than 5,000 Indiana students who had not previously been exposed to robotics! It was a fantastic first year, but our work is not done. There are still more than 800 elementary schools across the state who have not taken advantage of this unique opportunity. We want to be certain that the leadership within Indiana schools understands that robotics is just as valuable (and just as fun!) as offering athletics or fine arts. If every school district offers athletics and fine arts why not also offer competitive STEM opportunities for their students?  

In May, we challenged Indiana superintendents to take the “Robotics Pledge”, making robotics education accessible to EVERY elementary school in their district with the help of our SRI grant. We recently spoke with the superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools, Dr. Andrew T. Melin, who is championing robotics in his district by ensuring that all twelve of the corporation’s elementary schools are providing robotics programs. Here is what Dr. Melin had to say when asked why he thinks it is important that 100% of his elementary schools offer robotics programs:

Teams from all elementary schools in Greater Clark County gathered for a scrimmage in February 2017.

Teams from all elementary schools in Greater Clark County gathered for a scrimmage in February 2017.

“Our elementary students gained invaluable skill development in terms of critical-thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork at the VEX IQ robotics competitions. The great value of VEX Robotics is that students are involved in STEM learning without realizing it because it is fun and engaging. It gives students who are primarily academically focused a chance to participate in a team environment. It was so exciting and meaningful, that we thought all of our elementary schools would benefit from participating.”

When asked about Greater Clark’s goals going forward, Dr. Melin stated, “We want students to use our academic skills’ focus on reading, writing, and math along with our PRIDE career skills of Persistence, Respectfulness, Initiative, Dependability, and Efficiency to apply their learning, to work collaboratively, and to enjoy the experience.”

Blue Dots = Schools with VEX IQ teams  Robots = Districts with a robotics team in every Elementary School

Blue Dots = Schools with VEX IQ teams

Robots = Districts with a robotics team in every Elementary School

Greater Clark County isn’t the only district in the state to commit to making robotics accessible to all elementary students. MSD Decatur Township, Lake Ridge New Tech Schools, Frankton-Lapel Community Schools, and East Noble School Corporation have also received grants for 100% of the elementary schools in each of their districts.

If your school or a school in your area is still feeling hesitant about applying for the State Robot Grant, check out what other Indiana teachers and administrators are saying after their first year.

Is your school corporation committed to offering students this unique STEM learning opportunity? Take the Robotics Pledge today and help us grow Indiana’s future!

Learn more at

To see if your school is eligible to apply for a robotics grant, visit our Robot Map.

CoderDojo Indiana Hackathon!

Do you have what it takes to be a developer? We're giving central Indiana kids a chance to find out!

CoderDojo Indiana (CDI), an initiative of TechPoint Foundation for Youth, is excited to host its inaugural hackathon, which, if you aren't familiar with the term, is an event where a group of people come together to engage in collaborative computer programming!

In this case, we're talking about a group of kids joining us at DeveloperTown (just south of Broad Ripple) on Saturday, July 22, 2017, to participate in all kinds of fun activities! Students will have a chance to test their skills (and learn some new ones!) by completing coding challenges in two programming languages: Python and Scratch. While the event targets student participants (ie: ninjas!) from CoderDojo clubs throughout Indiana, anyone is welcome to attend - no experience required!

The day will begin with opening ceremonies at 10am followed by a 5 hour challenge period. During the challenge period, students will be able to earn points by completing different coding challenges - the more difficult the challenge, the more points they can earn! During lunch, students will also have a chance to interact with some exciting hands-on exhibitors. The day will conclude with awards and prizes.

While it's FREE to participate, you must register at by Wednesday, July 19th in order to reserve your spot!

At the start of last summer, 15 CoderDojo clubs existed in Indiana, mostly located around Indianapolis and supported by the city’s thriving technology sector. Thanks to a partnership between Eleven Fifty Academy and TechPoint Foundation for Youth, that narrative is changing. There are now more than 30 CoderDojo clubs in communities throughout Indiana, with sites in 3 additional communities expected to launch by September 2017. The movement’s footprint has grown from just shy of 100 students to 450+, and we're excited to continue that growth in the years to come, giving all students access to high impact computer science programs!

We hope to see you at the CoderDojo Indiana Hackathon on July 22nd!

$30,000+ Raised to Support EnablINg STEM Teacher Grants at 2017 Mira Awards Gala

A student from Grassy Creek Elementary School shows off a LEGO design from her classroom project.

A student from Grassy Creek Elementary School shows off a LEGO design from her classroom project.

INDIANAPOLIS (June 14, 2017) — TechPoint Foundation for Youth is thrilled to announce that it has exceeded its $30,000 fundraising goal to support the EnablINg STEM Teacher Grant program. Thanks to a $10,000 matching donation from Angie’s List Foundation and the generosity of the attendees at this year’s TechPoint Mira Awards Gala, the funds will support 60 classroom projects designed to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum.

This competitive grant, which is open to all Indiana kindergarten through 8th grade classroom teachers in schools with a free and reduced price lunch percentage of 55% or greater, provides grant dollars to teachers to support the purchase of supplies and equipment that reinforce STEM curriculum in the classroom. Applications are evaluated based on their ability to implement hands-on, project-based STEM programming, while also focusing on the use of resources that could extend beyond the school year, and have an emphasis on student STEM engagement.

Students from East Side Elementary School in Edinburgh perform a hands-on science experiment in their classroom.

Students from East Side Elementary School in Edinburgh perform a hands-on science experiment in their classroom.

“We know that our state’s great teachers far too often pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets,” said Laura Dodds, TechPoint Foundation for Youth Executive Director. “By supplementing school supply budgets, this grant makes it possible for students to explore exciting STEM curriculum in a hands-on way and allows teachers to be creative, while also helping to reduce the amount of money teachers are spending.”

Students from Spring Mill Elementary School play with their HexBug kits.

Students from Spring Mill Elementary School play with their HexBug kits.

Since 2013, grants have been awarded to 65 teachers throughout Indiana, with projects impacting over 15,000 low-income students. However, as the grant has grown in popularity, it has been harder to keep up with demand, as qualified teacher applications have outnumbered the funding available to support the projects.

This latest fundraising campaign has resulted in the largest grant fund available to teachers since the grant opened thanks to the support of our partners at Angie’s List Foundation, TechPoint, and a generous anonymous donation that followed the 2017 Mira Awards Gala in April.

Students from West Newton Elementary School on the south side of Indianapolis show of their classroom projects.

Students from West Newton Elementary School on the south side of Indianapolis show of their classroom projects.

While the grant is currently closed, applications are accepted for spring and fall grant cycles, with the next cycle opening on August 7th to support Fall 2017 projects.

To learn more about the EnablINg STEM Teacher Grant and to apply when the next cycle opens, please visit the EnablINg STEM Grants page or follow us on social media.

TPF4Y and Indiana DWD jointly inducted into the STEM Hall of Fame as 2017 Partner of the Year

TPF4Y Executive Director Laura Dodds and DWD Commissioner Steve Braun

TPF4Y Executive Director Laura Dodds and DWD Commissioner Steve Braun

INDIANAPOLIS (June 13, 2017) - The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation recently inducted TechPoint Foundation for Youth (TPY) and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) into the STEM Hall of Fame as the 2017 Partner of the Year. The honor was given at the VEX Robotics World Championship, held at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

The REC Foundation defines STEM Hall of Fame Partner of the Year recipients as “well-recognized and respected organizations with vision, products, and services aligned with the fields of science, engineering, and technology, and with personnel that represent a valued spectrum of knowledge and talent across STEM.” TPY and DWD join the ranks of previous inductees including NASA, Texas Instruments, Project Lead The Way, Autodesk and others.

An Indiana student at a VEX IQ Challenge competition.

An Indiana student at a VEX IQ Challenge competition.

“The explosive growth of VEX Robotics teams in Indiana over the last year is a direct reflection of the progressive vision of STEM leaders in the state, and specifically, the combined efforts of Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development and the staff at TechPoint Foundation for Youth,” said Jason Morrella, President of the REC Foundation. 

In Spring 2016, in partnership with the REC Foundation, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and TechPoint Foundation for Youth expanded the successful City of Indianapolis VEX Robotics Competition model started by Former Mayor Greg Ballard statewide, with a focus on providing equal access to high impact STEM learning opportunities for all Indiana students.

“Indiana is always looking forward for ways to bridge the gap of workforce supply and industry demand. We know that robotics engages diverse student populations in comprehensive STEM subject matter that has been proven to spur interest in STEM college and career pathways,” said DWD Commissioner Steve Braun. “This program is going to make a real difference for Indiana students and employers, and we are honored to be recognized for this work alongside our partners at TechPoint Foundation for Youth.”  

State Director of Robotics George Giltner, TPF4Y Executive Director Laura Dodds, and former DWD Associate COO, Dennis Wimer

State Director of Robotics George Giltner, TPF4Y Executive Director Laura Dodds, and former DWD Associate COO, Dennis Wimer

One year after expansion, the State Robotics Initiative has impacted thousands of students, with the number of competing elementary school teams skyrocketing from just over 70 to more than 500 teams in Indiana. At the recent VEX Robotics World Championship, 29 of Indiana’s elementary VEX IQ Challenge teams - more than any other state - were invited to compete with peers from over 30 countries around the world. Recent feedback and evaluations from Indiana teachers and participants has reinforced the impact the initiative is having on students.

“Our partnership with DWD kicked off the State Robotics Initiative and we are thrilled that we have been able to introduce this innovative platform to so many Indiana students,” said Executive Director Laura Dodds. “We’ve had teachers share that this experience has encouraged their most reserved female students to find a voice, another sharing that their students are already beginning to look at colleges with robotics programs. It’s been rewarding to be a part of such an impactful partnership and we are beyond thrilled to be recognized now as a member of the STEM Hall of Fame alongside so many other great organizations.”  

TechPoint Foundation for Youth recently kicked off the second year of the State Robotics Initiative with 400 more robotics grants available for Indiana elementary schools and out-of-school providers who don’t already have a VEX IQ Challenge team. To learn more about the robotics grant, how to apply, how you or your company can get involved, or to support a team in your area, visit or email

About REC Foundation: The REC Foundation seeks to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, sustainable and affordable curriculum-based robotics engineering programs across the U.S. and internationally. The REC Foundation develops partnerships with K-12 education, higher education, government, industry, and the non-profit community to achieve this work. More information at: or

About Indiana Department of Workforce Development: The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) serves the worker and the employer to ensure workplace success. DWD is committed to innovating and invigorating Indiana’s economic future by providing WorkOne Career Centers, Unemployment Insurance, Labor Market Information, Regional Workforce Strategies and Professional Training. Through these services, DWD is able to develop a premier workforce that enables Indiana employers to flourish and entices businesses from outside our state to relocate to Indiana.

About TechPoint Foundation for Youth: TechPoint Foundation for Youth is committed to inspiring our state's underserved K-12 students to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We believe that our youth should be equipped to address Indiana's growing demand for a skilled workforce.

2017 All Girls FLL Challenge!


The 2nd annual All Girls FLL Challenge took place on Saturday, May 20th on IUPUI's campus and hosted almost 60 girls. Representing Avon, Bedford, Fort Wayne, Hobart, Indianapolis, Martinsville, West Lafayette, and Zionsville, 12 teams participated in this day-long, off-season event that focuses on boosting the confidence of females participating on robotics teams. The event was planned and hosted by an all-female steering committee comprised of staff from the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, IndianaFIRST, the School of Informatics & Computing, and TechPoint Foundation for Youth.

Judges Ashley Looper & Katie Richmond pose with Ruby Roo.

Judges Ashley Looper & Katie Richmond pose with Ruby Roo.

Similarly to last year, the opening ceremonies were followed by three, 1-hour long sessions that allowed the girls to experience the virtual reality and media labs during a building tour with IUPUI students, practice with their robots to prepare for the afternoon's competition, and work together on this year's Sisterhood Activity.

The Sisterhood Award is based on the successful completion of the activity, which changes every year to reflect the FIRST LEGO League challenge. Since this year's challenge was Animal Allies, the steering committee wanted an activity that tied engineering and design concepts to animal welfare so we invited some guest judges to help us pull it off! 

A team of girls works together to design their prosthetic concept for Ruby Roo.

A team of girls works together to design their prosthetic concept for Ruby Roo.

Ruby Roo, a chihuahua born without her front legs, was the star of this year's Sisterhood Activity. The girls were charged with designing a prosthetic concept for Ruby that was not too heavy or too light or too cumbersome - all problems she's faced with past prosthetics. Her owner, former veterinary technician Ashley Looper, talked to the girls about various animal prosthetics while Katie Richmond, a certified prosthetist/orthotist at Prosthetic Solutions of Indiana, told them more about prosthetics for humans. After learning from our judges, the girls got to meet Ruby and then use craft supplies to create their own prosthetic designs. There were lots of exciting ideas!

After lunch, the teams presented their prosthetic ideas to Katie, Ashley, and Ruby in hopes of winning the Sisterhood Award, and participated in the Animal Allies robot competition in the auditorium. 

At the end of the day, six total awards were presented to the most deserving teams for the following accomplishments:

Sisterhood Award: Hobart Brickies from Hobart
For the Sisterhood Award, judges base their decision on the teamwork and core values exhibited during the sisterhood activity time, as well as the team's presentation of their finished invention. They look for a team that invented a clever product, but did so while displaying enthusiasm and support for the ideas of their fellow teammates.

Champion: Robo Saviors from Martinsville
The Champion Award is presented to the team with the highest score during the robot competition.

Runner Up: Gamer Girls - Narwahls from Zionsville
The Runner Up Award is presented to the team with the second highest score during the robot competition.

Robot Design Award: AME2 from Indianapolis
For the Robot Design Award, judges look for a team whose design work stands out. They evaluate mechanical design, innovation, programming effectiveness, and team strategies for solving missions to assess overall design quality. Judges also take into account how well the robot performs on the competition field

Creativity Award: Gamer Girls - Turtles from Avon
For the Creativity Award, judges look for a team whose effort and performance is unique from every other team. They base their decision on conversations and observations made throughout the day while they look for a team that displays creativity in every aspect of their work, from the design of their robot, to the presentation of their team, to the way they work together.

A girl-powered team of volunteers was instrumental in making the event a success!

A girl-powered team of volunteers was instrumental in making the event a success!

Phoenix Award: The Thing That Moves from West Lafayette
The Phoenix Award is given to a team that displays a can-do attitude throughout the event, even when presented with disappointing challenges or problems. The judges look for a team that does not give up easily and is determined to persevere despite difficulties.

Congratulations to all our teams for a fabulous day of STEM learning & thanks to our volunteers for making this event possible!

A Driving Force: Grassy Creek Elementary's Girl Power Duo

The Grassy Creek Elementary School teams pose for a group photo at one of the seven events they competed in this season.

The Grassy Creek Elementary School teams pose for a group photo at one of the seven events they competed in this season.

The kids on the VEX IQ teams at Grassy Creek Elementary School may be young, but they already have a good idea of what they want to be when they grow up. Answers range from scientist to dentist to the most popular answer, engineer, because, as one student said, "engineering is really fun."

With 19 kids split among three teams, the school has been to seven competitions this season and will be on their way to VEX IQ Worlds in Louisville next week, lead by their dedicated and energetic coaches, Dustin Ecker, Ryan Gammons, Andy Knies, and Capri Corwin. In speaking with the Grassy Creek coaches, you quickly understand why the students on this team are so excited about robotics. As Coach Ecker put it," we want the robotics program to ignite a passion for learning; our biggest goal is to build lifelong learners and problem-solvers in hopes that just maybe, these kids will be the future of engineering." 

Although the students on all three of Grassy Creek's robotics teams - WolverineBots, BatBots, and HulkBots - are 1st year robotics competitors, each team has proven to be quite a force to be reckoned with. And robotics isn't all they do - most of the students participate in other activities like basketball, baseball, Math Bowl, Spell Bowl, soccer, lacrosse, jujitsu, and football - however, when schedules interfere, most students will choose robotics over other activities. As one 4th grader put it, "Robotics has more to offer than football. In football, you don't really use your brain that much."

The WolverineBots from left: Hannah, Jocelyn, Natalie, Jala, Eli, and Raylen.

The WolverineBots from left: Hannah, Jocelyn, Natalie, Jala, Eli, and Raylen.

These students are certainly using their collective brain power on the robot field, and the results have been impressive! Eli, Hannah, Jala, Jocelyn, Natalie, and Raylen, the six students making up the WolverineBots team, were crowned Teamwork Champions at four different competitions this year for their top ranked robot performance. This group of 3rd and 4th graders are well-spoken, respectful, and driven to succeed, with a straightforward approach to delegating roles for each team member. 

One of the drawings Jocelyn did for the team's engineering notebook.

One of the drawings Jocelyn did for the team's engineering notebook.

"I tried driving but realized I wasn't too good at it," said Jocelyn, who is a designer and researcher for the team. "But I like writing, drawing and presenting so I decided to be a researcher and make our robot sketches in our engineering notebook."  Jocelyn joins Hanna as the primary researchers for the team. These two are absolutely essential to the team winning an Excellence Award earlier this year and receiving the opportunity to compete in all areas at Worlds. The Excellence Award is the top honor of each competition.  These girls have worked tirelessly to put together a sound research project and develop a strong design notebook!

When it was time to decide on drive teams, Jala and Natalie became a driving duo, using practice time to hone their skills. Natalie's ability to quickly park and balance on the bridge and Jala's skills in driving and scoring led the two to formulate their winning strategy - Jala drives first, scoring as many points as possible, then hands off the controls so Natalie can seal the deal on the bridge before the final buzzer. There's also a second team of drivers for the Wolverines - Raylen and Eli - who naturally work well together as well. Raylen and Eli found their stride with driving and are an essential part of the many teamwork awards the Wolverines have won. These boys equally share driving rounds with Natalie and Jala and often alternate rounds during the qualifications rounds.  These four know the teamwork challenge is a complete team effort and their support of one another is inspiring.

In the moment, the girls rely on one another's encouragement and coaching. "During the matches she reminds me what buttons to hit and gives me tips and advice," Jala says of Natalie's competition coaching. "Sometimes I even get mad because she's not telling me what to do! But we always make up really quickly as soon as the match is over."

Jala and Natalie driving their robot at IndyVRC.  Photo by Ellie Sophia Photography

Jala and Natalie driving their robot at IndyVRC. Photo by Ellie Sophia Photography

The team didn't start the season as the powerhouse they are now. Jala was quick to explain that they didn't even make it to the finals during their first competition, fueling them to watch the winning teams' robots and take notes so they could later modify their robot to make it better. At their second competition they made it into the finals, but still didn't place at the top, so it was back to the drawing board during practice. Finally, during their third competition of the season, they made it to the finals and were part of the winning alliance - ultimate success! It was an experience that taught them the real-world meaning of the mantra "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." In fact, that mentality helped the girls compete and win during the final matches at the two biggest events in the state - in front of a HUGE audience and under a lot of pressure - the IndyVRC and the VEX IQ Elementary State Championship.

Jala and Natalie hold the Teamwork Champions trophy at the 2017 IndyVRC.

Jala and Natalie hold the Teamwork Champions trophy at the 2017 IndyVRC.

The kids on Wolverines, along with their friends on BatBot and HulkBot, have amassed 12 awards this year. This would not be possible with out the strengths that students from all teams bring to the group at Grassy Creek. The three teams have collaborated, shared ideas between teams, and provided practice and competition tips to one another for nearly 8 months. 

Now the whole team needs to keep that mindset as they head off to Louisville, Kentucky, for the biggest competition of their short robotics careers: the VEX IQ Robotics World Championship. They'll be competing against 280 of the best teams from around the world, with over 30 countries represented. "Honestly, our goal for Worlds is simply to enjoy the opportunity,"explains Coach Ecker, "We are going there aiming to make the finals, place in the Top 20 if at all possible.  However, we know that Worlds means the absolute best of the best. We are bound to have some incredible rounds but there's always a good chance that something will go terribly wrong at some point - and that's okay."

Although humble, the team seems ready. They even hosted additional practices during their school's spring break to prepare. But at the end of the day, win or lose, what will they do after the match? 

"Shake hands and give everyone a group hug!"

Sounds like a winning strategy to us. 

Indiana State Championship - Finals Match