In 2012, The Huntsville-based Pathfinder Chapter of AUVSI provided $97,415 in support of robotics education. This support consists of grants, funding for competition expenses and awards, scholarships, and funding to education organizations to support robotics competitions. In just the last four years, the AUVSI Pathfinder Chapter has awarded $363,665 in education grants to area schools and robotics education organizations.
The Pathfinder Chapter presented educational grants totaling $81,415 to 53 area schools. Additionally, a $6,000 grant was presented to SciQuest – for supporting underserved populations and at-risk youth robotics programs; a $5,000 grant was presented to the Alabama Council for Technology in Education (ACTE); a $5,000 grant to the Alabama First Lego League Championship.
The total amount awarded in education grants by the Pathfinder Chapter for 2012 is $97,415. The chapter awarded $118,100 for robotics education in 2011. In 2010, grants totaling $89,000 were awarded to area schools and education organizations, and in 2009, grants totaling $59,150 were awarded.
The grants were presented by the Pathfinder Education Committee in ceremonies held on 2 Oct. at the Huntsville Public Library auditorium. The grants ranged in size from $200 to $3,000 to support robotics technology education.
This marks the 22nd consecutive year that the Pathfinder Chapter has provided educational grants to the local community. Each year, schools throughout North Alabama and South Central Tennessee are invited to submit requests for funding support by the association. Winners include schools from Huntsville, Madison, Arab, Athens, Decatur, and Priceville, Ala., and Fayetteville, Tenn. Schools use the funds to purchase robot kits, computers and other items to support robotics education and to participate in robotics competitions.
Many schools have competed in the FIRST competitions over the years and have said that they could not afford to compete without the Pathfinder Chapter’s financial support. These grants support more than 5,000 students in robotics and technology education programs.
The ACTE grant will help to pay for their annual Technology Fair held each spring at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center. At the fair, more than 700 Northwest Alabama students in public and private grades 3 to 12 demonstrate how they are learning and using computer technology in school. The Pathfinder Chapter’s support for ACTE has been instrumental in keeping the competition alive and growing for several years. This grant supports more than 120 robotics and programming projects involving more than 200 students. This is the type of community involvement that members of the Pathfinder Chapter want to encourage and sustain through their education grant award program.
The Sci-Quest Grant enables school children from across the community to participate in robotics education and competition programs, including home schooled students and students from public and private schools that do not have access to robotics through their respective schools. Currently, there are 125 children signed up for the 2012 program, making 22 robotics teams. The program has expanded offering five Jr. First Lego League (FLL) Teams; 15 First Lego League Teams (FLL); and two high school teams, participating in the FIRST Robotics Challenge (FTC). The Sci-Quest Grant supports robotics education that specifically targets underserved populations and at-risk youth in robotics education programs in the community. Sci-Quest is committed to expanding community awareness and engagement in robotics education.
The FIRST Lego League (FLL) Grant will enable hosting of the Alabama FLL Championship. Alabama FLL provides a venue for our state’s students to demonstrate their abilities. More than 800 students from across the state are expected to compete on 19 Jan. 2013, in Huntsville. Currently, 100 teams are projected to register for the 2012 “Senior Solution” Challenge. The state winners proceed on to the 2013 World Festival First Lego League competition.
Accompanying each grant is a paid membership in AUVSI. This provides timely and informative periodicals and information from the association directly to the classroom.
In addition to providing monetary support, many members of the AUVSI Pathfinder Chapter volunteer to serve as mentors to various robotics clubs in the local area and thus aid the teachers in providing assistance and guidance to the students as they prepare for local and regional robotics competitions.