VEX Robotics Teams Promote STEM Advocacy in Washington, DC

September 12, 2022

This is the second year the REC Foundation has partnered with the Student Association for STEM advocacy (SASA.)  High school students from VRC teams assembled for the National Advocacy Conference, which included extensive training on how to effectively advocate on the importance of STEM programs for all students.  I had an opportunity to join a very passionate group of teams, where I collected some of their insights on the training, the Chips Act, and working with teams from across the country.  I would like to share this story through their perspective. 

I thought attending the National Advocacy Conference, or “NAC,” in Washington D. C. would be something that would separate me from most college applicants, and was excited for the opportunity. I really wanted to advocate more hands-on learning. The opportunity was too good to pass up.  - Vivienne

A pre-training training session took place on Sunday morning for everyone who was new to being a student advocate.  In the afternoon the full contingent of students, teachers and coaches gathered to listen to presentations regarding advocacy, STEM education, and the specific legislation that impacted competitive robotics.

Teams were grouped by state in order to prepare for their legislative meetings.  My favorite part was interacting with other robotics teams that were also passionate about advocating for what they love, and through that I met a lot of wonderful people that I'll hopefully see at competitions throughout my robotics experience. -Alec

News - Sept22 - VEX1

Our walk, through the heart of Washington, D.C., was lined with museums, tourists, official-looking people, and, best of all, historical buildings. From the outside, these buildings were attractive, but from the inside they were breathtaking. It was a privilege to be a tiny blip in this bustling place. I eagerly anticipated sharing my personal stories and the REC Foundation’s mission with Congressional staff members. -Grace

News - Sept22 - VEX2

Attending the SASA conference helped the students understand the legislative process, and reinforced the value of STEM programs for all students. Sean, Andrew, and Spencer who are dedicated to STEM mentoring and served as instructors at the IPSD 204 robotics summer camp in Naperville for four years and selected to represent our program. -Coach Lynn

 

I was overjoyed with the passing of the CHIPS bill. The additional funding for after school STEM programs is going to be huge for robotics communities, and through this they'll be more students who get exposure to robotics and STEM, and make the robotics season more competitive and more inclusive.  -Alec

 

News - Sept22 - EX3

This experience taught me that any enthusiastic roboteer can make a difference through advocacy. The best place to start is by meeting with an elected official and making them a fan of robotics. Remember, you are an expert in what you are advocating for – a life-changing robotics program!  -Grace

Many thanks to Grace, Vivienne, Alec, and Coach Lynn for providing their insight and thoughts on the conference experience.  Best wishes to Sean, Spencer and Andrew as they head off to college to continue their studies in engineering, materials science and computer science. 

If your team is interested in participating locally or learning more you are welcome to contact Nancy McIntyre at Nancy_mcintyre@roboticseducation.org