INDIANAPOLIS, July 25,2016 - TechPoint Foundation for Youth says a nearly $300,000 donation from Guggenheim Life and Annuity Company will fund the first year of a statewide robotics initiative. The program, which involves organizations including VEX Robotics, NASA and Indianapolis-based Project Lead The Way, will include 400 elementary schools in its first year. Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Guggenheim Vice President Karen Maginn discussed the program this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television.
Organizers say the program will serve 400 elementary schools and 40,000 Hoosier students in its first year. The initiative aims to grow interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through robotics. It is initially focusing on fourth and fifth graders, but is expected to expand into middle and high schools.
The state announced the program in April. At the time, Indiana Department of Workforce Development Associate Chief Operating Officer Dennis Wimer said it would address a "critical" need to get kids interested in STEM fields early in their academic careers. In a release, he said the effort sparks excitement among students as "they talk about the competition and they talk about how they're doing this kind of programming or they're doing this kind of robot and the whole time they're talking about the science and engineering pieces of it, and thinking about it more from an enjoyable gaming aspect."
Ballard, who was a champion for the initiative during his time as Indianapolis mayor, says the passion for STEM being sparked by robotics programs is "simply phenomenal."