King's High School Robotics to present at national conference in Houston Apr 21

Friday, April 7, 2017

Robotics program for students with and without special needs
Photo by Noelle Foster

FRC Team 4911 CyberKnights, a robotics team from King’s High School, is proud to announce they will be leading a conference on Special Olympics Unified Robotics at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in Houston, Texas.

This session will introduce Special Olympics Unified Robotics, a robotics program for students with and without special needs, to FIRST Robotics teams from around the world. The session will demonstrate how Unified Robotics helps bridge the achievement gap by empowering students with special needs to participate in robotics, to be involved in a STEM program, and to develop important life skills including self-confidence, communication and leadership.

Special Olympics Unified Robotics was started by a member of the CyberKnights who was inspired by her sister with autism. She recognized that students with special needs often have constrained access to engineering and programming classes because of staff support requirements and significant modifications. Unified Robotics is an unprecedented accepting and hands-on way to introduce these students to STEM concepts.

“By offering this club to a diverse population of students, we can broaden their interests and experiences in STEM-related activities, as well as teach them basic life and job skills that will open more doors in their futures,” said Noelle Foster, CyberKnights mentor. 
“In addition to introducing programming and engineering concepts to a population of students not typically engaged in these areas, Unified Robotics is an educational and leadership experience for every student involved.”

Conference attendees will learn:

•       The importance of Unified Robotics
•       How to start a Unified Robotics program at their school
•       How to fund the program
•       Marketing and public relationships
•       Recruiting tips
•       The personal impact it has made on past participants

 “Our goal is to expand Unified Robotics so that every high school student has access to robotics,” said Mike Thompson, CyberKnights coach and King’s High School teacher. 
“We wish to share our experiences and spread awareness of the importance of this program with FIRST Robotics teams everywhere. We will provide support and instruction on how to start this program at other schools. Participants will learn how this program is beneficial and impactful for all members involved.”

The conference will be held in Houston, Texas on Friday, April 21. The session will be led by a panel of students, mentors and coaches impacted by Unified Robotics including Mike Thompson, Noelle Foster and students Jane Yi, Joanne Yi, Laurie Machida, Eneya Kwesele, Madeleine Schwitters, and Eva Lu.


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