Thanks to grant funding from the Port Huron Schools Endowment Fund, all Port Huron schools will now have robotics programs for their students.
Prior to the recent grants, the district featured a unified high school FIRST Robotics team – the Mecanum Knights Team 3667 – along with programs at the STEAM Academy at Woodrow Wilson, Michigamme and Thomas Edison elementary schools. With the grant from the endowment fund, Port Huron Schools were able to secure a Michigan Department of Education grant that was contingent on matching funds. This enabled the district to provide additional elementary FIRST Lego League Challenge Teams (grades 4-5) and middle school FIRST Tech Challenge Teams (grades 6-8) robotics programs, as well as updating the resources for the current programs, for the 22-23 school year.
“We are very excited about the new Legos Leagues, especially how many schools wanted to participate,” said Port Huron Schools Endowment Fund Chair Kim Dooley. “Our District staff is doing an incredible job of finding new and innovative ways to inspire out students and we were thrilled to provide some additional resources. Thank you to our community for always showing up big to support our fundraising efforts!”
Seven grants were provided to schools in the district this fall to help establish the new teams. One of the schools with a new Lego robotics team is Central Middle School. Their coach Scott Simpson is new to coaching robotics but Central Middle School Principal Joe Kramer said the response has been great and the students are excited to learn and compete.
The Central Cyber Cougars robotics team is open to all skill levels. They have about 15 students participating and using Legos to learn about coding, robot building and other STEM skills. The students then apply those skills to real world scientific challenges and competitions.
“We’re thankful to receive the grant from the Port Huon School Endowment, enabling us to start a new Lego First robotics league,” said Kramer. “It’s a great new opportunity for our students to get them more involved in STEM activities and expose them to more possible paths for their future.”
The Port Huron Schools Endowment Fund is supported by gifts and annual fundraising events like the Crosstown Showdown and Ks for Kids. The fund has grown from $100,000 to nearly $378,000 and granted nearly $180,000 back into the district including funding for college access advisors, classroom grants, support for the bands and more.
The fundraising efforts are also supported by a student advisory group made up of students from Port Huron Northern and Port Huron High Schools. The student advisory group will be volunteering at fundraisers and helping to raise awareness about the fund.
“We’re excited to get to work and help raise awareness about the fund,” said Ella Beck, the group’s student chair. “By connecting with our school community, all the way down to the elementary level, we can get more people involved in our fundraising events and just get them more engaged in giving back, in something positive, that helps improve our schools and the lives of all the students.”
Ella said they are always looking for more members and students wanting to participate can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how to join.