Aug. 5, 2022
USC Robotics gets $10,000 boost
The Upper St. Clair Robotics Club recently received a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair to support FIRST LEGO League Challenge programming at the middle school level.
“A large portion of this grant will go toward purchasing 12 LEGO Education SPIKE Prime kits and expansion sets for Fort Couch Middle School,” Tracy Smith, teacher and USC Robotics Club sponsor, said. “It will also cover expenses related to buying the challenge sets for this year's game, ‘Super Powered,’ registering Fort Couch teams for FLL nationally and locally, assisting in travel expenses to workshops, and much more.”
USC Robotics, which launched in the 2021-22 school year, had an enthusiastic response from students and families. Nearly 300 students in grades 5-12 have already expressed interest in joining the USC Robotics Club for the upcoming school year. Boyce and Fort Couch middle schools have reached enrollment capacity and are maintaining waitlists.
“This is more than double the students from last year,” Mrs. Smith said. “With this much interest, we need the proper materials and resources to provide an interactive and hands-on experience for all students.”
The Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair provides financial support for special programs and projects throughout the community that are not otherwise funded by tax dollars. The foundation focuses its support on the arts, health and STEM. The $10,000 grant qualifies the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair as a Legacy donor.
“The trustees of the Foundation are certain that this activity will positively impact and enhance the learning and lives of all participants and make a significant impression on the community at large,” said Jennifer Dempsey, board secretary and director of grants for the Community Foundation.
In order to support its rapid growth, the USC Robotics Club has set a fundraising goal of $40,000. To reach that goal, the program offers several donor recognition levels for the 2022-23 school year including:
- Legacy – $10,000 and above;
- School – $5,000
- Team – $1,500
- Community – less than $1,500
“The grant from the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair gets us a quarter of the funding that we need,” Mrs. Smith said. “This is an amazing start!”
Mrs. Smith emphasized the importance that partnerships play in offering these types of extracurricular clubs and experiences.
“If you want to change the culture – integrating robotics, technology, and computer science K-12 – it takes a movement,” she said. “It is not just financial support. It requires involved parents, mentors, educators and community to really bring it all together. Organizations are supporting this cause because they recognize the relevance and know that students will develop skills and have experiences that will improve their future.”
The concept of partnership extends to the student level as well. Members of the USC Robotics Club provide community service through the local library and serve as mentors for younger students who share their interest in robotics.
“Already this year our high school robotics teams have been involved in outreach at our local library as well as connecting with our local Odyssey of the Mind students at Ingenuity Camp,” Mrs. Smith said. “Our hope is to find ways to connect with our elementary schools as well to bring robotics opportunities to their students. USC Robotics Club hopes to reach our K-12 community in meaningful and exciting ways this school year!”
To date, other 2022-23 donors include TORC Robotics at the Team level; and DEKA Foundation at the Community level. For more information about USC Robotics or to donate online, visit www.uscrobotics.org.