Laurie V.

Laurie Vertz

Oconomowoc, WI

CooneyTech Robotics

Building Teen Confidence Through Robotics

Building Teen Confidence Through Robotics

I have been a member of FIRST Robotics for eleven years. Over these years I have worked with the Oconomowoc High School Robotics team as a mentor for fundraising, travel and robot construction. It has been my pleasure to watch team members start as reserved freshman and graduate as confident seniors. One year we had 13 seniors, 12 of whom were enrolled in STEM college majors. Every year more than half of our seniors enroll in STEM college majors. I have also helped start 14 VEX robotics teams for 100 students at our two intermediate schools; three LEGO Robotics teams and five Junior LEGO teams at elementary schools. I am the lead mentor for Jr. LEGO where we have 28 second and third grade students.

Two years ago I went to every second grade class in our district, with engineering coloring books made by our team, to discuss what engineers do with the students. I believe that it is very important to introduce young students to the idea of STEM occupations so that they consider the possibility. FIRST Robotics provides high school students with a hands-on application of their school instruction. By winning a Super Connector Search grant I will be able to purchase some new equipment to broaden that hands-on experience. I really enjoy giving a student an opportunity to try something they never even considered trying. No matter how much energy I give, I get more energy back from the student's enthusiasm.