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New Hampshire to Boost STEM Interest With Robotics Grants

In the Granite State, the Department of Education will give grants to 77 schools for parts, tools, uniforms, transportation, coaches and whatever is needed to participate in K-12 robotics club events.

Young students sitting around a table in a class building robots.
Schools throughout New Hampshire will receive money to start or enhance robotics programs, the state’s Department of Education announced this week.

According to a news release, grants totaling $713,601 will be sent to 77 schools for the 2023-2024 academic year. The money can be used to buy robotics kits, parts and tools, as well as cover the costs associated with robotics team competitions like event fees, transportation, team shirts and stipends for advisers or coaches. The awards range from $2,000 for smaller schools to $14,850 for the largest schools.

“This is such an incredible opportunity for so many schools throughout the state that are eager to establish robotics teams and participate in competitive events,” Frank Edelblut, New Hampshire education commissioner, said in a public statement. “Not only will this initiative motivate public- and charter-school students to potentially pursue careers in STEM, but it will also help build critical life and work-related skills — all while students are having fun and connecting with their teammates.”

Although the bulk of the money is earmarked for robotics programs, a middle school in the Exeter Region Cooperative School District will receive a grant to launch a drone program, which educators intend to give students practice with communication and organizational skills while also teaching them about programming, scientific principles of flight, and future careers in the growing drone-related workforce, according to the news release.

According to the website for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a New Hampshire-based nonprofit that works to advance STEM education, interest in robotics programs in the United States and about 100 other nations has skyrocketed in the past 30-plus years. FIRST estimates that 2.5 million students worldwide have participated in its programs since 1989, and more than 530,000 in the 2021-2022 school year alone.

FIRST, which is just one of many scholastic robotics programs, reports that 81 percent of its alumni declared a STEM major in college, and 50 percent of female alumni specifically declared college majors in computer science or engineering.