Robotics Championship unites schools and promotes inclusion and diversity

Monday, November 6, 2017

According to a recent NPR study, nearly half of employable young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are unemployed.

For perspective, only 26% of employable young adults without ASD are unemployed. This represents the sizable disparity between opportunities available for students with, and without, ASD and/or intellectual disabilities.

Using a competitive robotics program as a tool to close this opportunity gap, Special Olympics Unified Robotics will host the 2017 Unified Robotics Championship at the Pacific Science Center, 200 Second Ave N, Seattle.

The event is from 11:30am - 5:00pm on Sunday, November 12, 2017 where 40 teams from local schools will face off in the Championship Tournament.

Each team, comprised of an equal number of students with and without disabilities, will compete with their personally designed robots for the Championship title.

Teams will also be recognized for creativity, work ethic, and sportsmanship.

The event will serve as a celebration of the dedication of the Unified Robotics teams to developing ingenious, creative and effective robots.

Special guests include Will Daugherty, Dave Lenox, and Erin McCallum - all of whom will serve as VIP judges.

In 2016, Seattle made history with the first ever Special Olympics Unified Robotics program. Engineered to promote inclusion and ignite a passion for STEM through the sport of robotics, the program allows students to participate in the movement toward neuro-diverse hiring policies and community-wide inclusion. Today, this program has exponentially grown at the national level, and is in at least five states.

“If you think this is just about robotics, you’re missing the point. It’s not about the robot, it’s about social change, acceptance, and inclusion.”
- Noelle Foster, Program Director, and mother of founder Delaney Foster

Delaney and Kendall Foster
Overall, the championship represents founder Delaney Foster’s vision to expose students of all abilities to STEM possibilities through robotics.

Inspired by her sister Kendall, who is on the autism spectrum, Delaney designed the program as an avenue for STEM exploration and empowerment while she was a student at King's in Shoreline.

The Unified Robotics team hopes that this year’s championship will further deconstruct barriers and encourage inclusion.

In addition to the main championship, there will be an Opportunity Fair aimed at exposing high school students to various career-and-education-based pathways. The championship’s events will be open to the public, allowing museum visitors to learn more about the program. Additional information may be found at

Local schools participating are King's High School and Shoreline Community College.


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