Over the past few weeks, United Way of Grant County has been presenting each of the five school corporations with a donation to help fund their robotics and STEM programs.
Each corporation received a $3,000 donation from the UnitedIN20 grant program of Indiana United Way.
“We were really excited to help all of our school systems with a little investment for this programming,” Hazelwood said. “It’s a significant investment but at the same time it’ll go very quickly.”
Hazelwood said she wrote the grant in a way that allows the programs to use the funds however they see fit. They could potentially use the money towards transportation, entrance fees, t-shirts, new equipment, snacks and more.
“It oddly worked out on a year where schools are really stressing, obviously under the pressure of COVID and the pandemic, and going into another school year with more strain on the staff,” Hazelwood said. “Here’s some money to keep this great program going on a year where they are probably looking at what they can cut back on.”
Members of the Mississinewa robotics teams expressed their appreciation for the support.
“I really want to be an engineer when I grow up,” said sixth grader Jackson Schurger. “People think when they hear robotics it’s just we build robots and stuff, but there’s a lot more to it. We have to build it. We have to drive it and program it and modify it. It’s fun.”
Schurger said he has used the skills he’s gained in robotics to help fix a golf cart engine and a lawn mower.
Rozilyn Couse, an eighth grader and coach-in-training, said robotics has taught her about creative problem solving and teamwork.
“I like doing hands on activities and going to competitions,” Couse said. “I think we’re a good team and I’ve made a lot of friends in robotics.”
Freshman Lakota Taylor and Sophomore Cadance Ormsby both said they hope their work in robotics gains them a scholarship someday, so they can go to college.
“It’s a big passion of mine and I want to be a mechanical engineer,” Taylor said. “This will help take me a long way.”
Ormsby said he wishes more people were interested in robotics.
Oak Hill superintendent Chad Cripe said the funds will go towards “anything and everything.”
“We love robotics,” Cripe said. “(The grant) is just one more example of the community pulling together. I’m very thankful to have these fund to help our robotics club grow and be successful.”
Brenda McVicker, Curriculum Director at Eastbrook Community Schools, said they plan to use the funds to purchase necessary equipment to start new robotics teams at both elementary schools. Teachers were trained over the summer and will likely begin the robotics programs this year.
“We’re just very thankful and are looking forward to the opportunity to be able to grow this program,” McVicker said.
Madison-Grant superintendent Scott Deets said the funds will take some pressure off the robotics teams to fundraise for competitions and other necessities like uniforms.