Hand in Hand: Bridging opportunity and achievement gaps and connecting students through robotics

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Photo by Noelle Foster
On October 10th, thirteen high schools, plus three middle schools, gathered together with the purpose of extending competitive robotics teams to students with disabilities. 

All together, 175 people attended the event, held by Special Olympics Unified Robotics at the Microsoft Redmond Town Center campus. 

Student and mentor, child and parent, individuals with and without disabilities, a broad spectrum of people came together that evening, made possible by the generous support of Microsoft.

The event was Live-Streamed so that new teams from outside the area could learn and participate in Unified Robotics™. The video from the event can be accessed here.

King's student Eva Taylor explains a concept
The event included an introduction to SOWA (Special Olympics Washington) - an organization focused on empowering students with intellectual disabilities through competitive opportunities- in addition to training sessions for building, programming, and competing in this year’s robotics game challenge.

During the event, multiple individuals involved with the program shared testimonies on their respective experiences.

Amongst the speakers were Special Olympics Washington representatives Joe Hampson and Morgan Larche and a pair of students involved with the program in 2015.

Photo by Andrew LaPrade

Speakers specifically emphasized the ubiquitous impact on individuals involved with Unified Robotics, not limiting the benefits to any one people group. More so, speakers expressed a genuine desire for change and opportunity, presenting the program as an ideal method of achieving this goal.

Unified Robotics stands out as powerful way to promote STEM-based activities and provide social inclusion opportunities vital for high school students.

Photo by Andrew LaPrade
Over ten schools left fully prepared to implement the program immediately.

Special Olympics Unified Robotics will culminate in a Washington State Championship Tournament in which all participating schools will compete on the field and present their robots to Judges and audience members.

The Championship Tournament will be held at Pacific Science Center on December 3rd from 10am-3pm.

From this point, SOWA looks to the future with plans to further break down borders and bridge gaps through innovation, passion and robotics.

More information on Unified Robotics can be found here or through contacting Unified Robotics Consulting Mentor, Noelle Foster or SOWA Director of Unified Schools, Morgan Larche.


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