Hosting of Education Leaders - USA delegates

This is an open message to anyone that might be able to give me some info or insights that I need.

Context:
My school will be hosting a hgh level delegates from USA next week.
The delegates include superintendents of schools from various states, etc.

And as part of the visit, they will be dropping by the robotics lab and to understand a bit more of our 8059 team.

2 of the delegates caught my attention (simply because of where they are from).
Dr Walter Jackson - Superintendent, Brenham Independent School District, Texas.
Dr Nikki Woodson, - Superintendent, Metropolitan School, District of Washington Township, Indianapolis.

I am not going into the politics, but just hope to have some info of them in the aspect of robotics or VRC, eg. how supportive are they, how much knowledge do they have regarding VRC, etc.

I am hoping that all these additional info will allow me to customise my presentation and make it more meaningful for them.

thanks in advance for any help that I will get from here.

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I’ll provide what insight I can for Washington Township, as I live in the bordering Pike Township.

Washington Twp does have a fair amount of robotics going on, especially more at the IQ level. I’m less familiar with their VRC side, but I’m positive they have HS VRC teams at least.

Indiana as a whole has a robust robotics development program through the TechPoint Foundation for Youth organization. They have lots of grants and opportunities to connect mentors to programs around the state. I would find it pretty unlikely that Dr. Woodson wouldn’t have at least heard about them.

The Indianapolis area has LOTS of tech/STEM related companies, and they’re generally all hungry for STEM talent, and the local high schools are key to developing that. There’s likely lots of opportunities for school districts to connect with those folks in industry for lots of different benefits (sponsorships, mentors, field trips, etc.).

Posting this as a starter, then I’m going to go look over the Indiana State Championship teams and see if I can identify any of them was Washington Twp schools.

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Hey Ming. I spent about 5 mins with Google and came up that the district does First Lego League work. They have a pretty big Career and technical education program. There were some docs that say they were going to introduce Robotics as part of the program, but I couldn’t find any students graduating with that.

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So with a quick look through the IQ State list for ES & MS, I don’t see any teams that I am certain are from Washington Township schools. I will look through VRC later (in the middle of our IQ camp right now), but the VRC State pool for Indiana is a lot smaller than IQ, and I’m relatively sure there weren’t any teams representing them for VRC at State.

So, there’s probably lots of opportunity for growth in any Vex related programs in their system.

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@Foster and @EngineerMike - thanks for doing the background research work for me.

Interesting points that both of you have surfaced. I had the perception that since Texas and Indiana are big in VRC, it should be very well known. But looks like there are still districts that are “untouched”.

Think maybe I will focus on the benefits and learning of the students via VRC. And hopefully this will plant some seeds in them and help to nudge their support a bit more towards VRC.

Anyone want me to do a shoutout for your team/school to your superintendents? :slight_smile:

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VRC here has some really top-notch teams, it’s just that the talent is quite concentrated overall among a number of programs, while a lot of other programs are developing their competitiveness. I’m a fan of more quality competition raises all boats. :slight_smile:

I can’t speak for Pike Twp HS (or even the district as a whole), but I feel comfortable in saying those of us that coach at the elementary school I help with are happy to talk with other programs at the IQ level. I’m happy to message you the name of the school if you want to include that in that messaging.

Personally I think driving the interest with IQ helps further drive the interest later in VRC, but I think they can do both (especially given the median income difference in that township being notably higher than here in Pike). But I also understand about speaking to what you feel qualified to speak about. Any enthusiasm for robotics that you can drum up is positive no matter what!

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I did a study in 2019 showing that competition robotics in Delmarva had a paltry 2% rate in schools that had an active team(s) (ie out of a 400 student school, only 7-8 students were on a team. Across the entire region, there is less than 0.01 rate. (Survey included any robotics, RECF/FIRST/BotBall, etc. )

So it wouldn’t surprise me that bigger states (TX) have limited coverage. Delmarva is slightly smaller than the Dallas / Fort Worth metro area, it’s a small percentage of the overall space in TX.

The lack of participation always makes me laugh when people do the FIRST vs RECF discussion. It’s like being at a pie eating contest and there are 1000’s of pies and you are fighting over one of them. More pie (roboteers) around than anyone can eat (get to participate). There are so many schools/libraries/etc that have future roboteers that we are not getting to.

Sure, send a shout out to my school superintendent, all they ever get from me is “give me more money” :roll_eyes: But I’d rather get a shout out to the many dozens of schools that don’t have robotics to get them started.

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You can certainly give me, Clear Creek ISD, and the Robonauts a shoutout to the Texas delegates. VEX is becoming an official state championship event at the High School level this year for public schools. Brenham is in my region. I host the largest qualifying events, the regional championships, and will host the HS state championships this year. We also have one of the most well known and oldest FRC teams out there. I also have been heavily involved with SkillsUSA (which runs a VEX competition) that their district has some programs compete in. I’d be very happy to do some follow up with them on their return.

Texas is very spotty. We have areas that are saturated with VEX, others that are FIRST heavy, and plenty of schools that do both. To give you an idea, Michigan may have 4x the number of FRC teams as Texas but Texas has more total teams, which shows how big FLL and FTC are in Texas. Because FIRST has been an official championship at the HS level for many years, many schools have stuck with FIRST top to bottom. That is about to make a huge shift toward VEX with the new designation.

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There are many good VRC teams in Washington Township (in Marion County Indiana):

Several of them are private or charter schools:
Park Tudor: 6842
Bishop Chatard: 5690
Purdue Polytech: 97817

One organization that competed last year is a public school in MSD Washington Township:
North Central HS: 8663

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Thanks for all the reply.

I will be contacting some of you to get a bit more of your details :slight_smile:

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