Franklin —Franklin High School's robotics team will represent the state of Wisconsin at the STEM National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., next month.
STEM — which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — are educational programs designed for different grade levels that encourage hands-on learning. FIRST Robotics, a STEM program for high school students, challenges teams to build a robot capable of achieving specific tasks within six weeks.
The robots are judged in regional, state and national competitions.
"FIRST isn't just about robotics, because each team runs like a business," said Michael Dicks, tech specialist at Franklin High School and a lead mentor for the Saber Robotics team. "There are aspects of human resources, marketing and building relationships with our sponsors.
"Everything about this program prepares students for the real world, for a real job."
At a regional competition in Minnesota earlier this year, Saber Robotics was invited to attend the national conference, where teams will speak with political leaders to advocate for the growth of STEM programs in schools.
Students who attend the conference will participate in educational courses and give a presentation to politicians during the trip, June 14-18.
"This is an excellent opportunity for the kids," Dicks said. "It's really neat that we're the only team in the state going to this."
Saber Robotics is currently fundraising for $10,000 to send 16 team members, both students and adults, to the conference.
The team is also selling FIRST Green e-watt saver light bulbs and hosting recycle drives as part of its fundraiser.
If the team raises more than $10,000, the additional funds will be used to support more STEM programs, such as the FIRST LEGO League for elementary students, Dicks said.
Donations can be made through the team's fundraising website, www.gofundme.com/Robotics-to-DC.
"As a team, we're always looking to fundraise," he said, "and whatever we make will always go back to the kids."
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