Political Activism "Dean's Homework"

While browsing the new FIRST website, I came across an article link regarding how the State of Rhode Island is funding FIRST Vex teams for every high school. It appears to be part of their regular academic program. Making it mandatory to have a robotics team at each school just as society requires a sports team at every school.

I have sent the following email to my two US Senators for Texas, my US representative, and a State Senator. Please consider doing the same, especially if you are from TEXAS!:smiley:

email copy below:)

I encourage you to read the following article on how Rhode Island is putting in place a systemic process whereby every high school has a robotics team. If we want to continue to be leaders in technology, shouldn’t our school system recognize and celebrate students competing on technology teams! Robotics is a strong draw for student interest and team sports is how we celebrate atheletic ability so a robotics team needs to be part of every school in TEXAS!


Rhode Island will be the first state in the nation to offer a FIRST program, specifically the FIRST Vex Challenge, in all of Rhode Island’s 67 public high schools, charter schools, and career and technical centers. Central to the project objectives are plans to integrate the Vex Challenge into the state’s new standards for science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) education.

Thank you for your time as you consider the possibilities for Texas.



<Edit> Here is a link to the original press release with more of the details.


The program, launched by the Business Innovation Factory, is supported by Governor Donald L. Carcieri and a coalition of education and science and technology advocates, including the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Governor’s PK-16 Council, the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.

Total costs for the program are estimated at $140,000, which includes funding for a statewide competition beginning in 2007. The coalition will seek support from business and community sponsors and mentorship from the local colleges and universities.

“We cannot afford to fail in preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow—jobs that will require skills in math, science, and engineering,” says Governor Donald L. Carcieri, whose administration fully supports the program. “This program will provide Rhode Island’s young people with an extraordinary opportunity to get hands-on, real-world science and engineering experience in a way that brings true excitement to learning. I am pleased to make this program an important part of our plan for educating Rhode Island’s next generation of science, technology, and engineering leaders.”

That is GREAT!!! Kudos to Rhode Island for starting that program, and kudos to you for finding it and taking action to get your state involved. That’s truly an excellent idea. If you remember from a while back, (and hopefully you do, because it’s still on the portal), Michigan tooks steps as well to get more FRC teams in their state. Hopefully this will lead to more states taking more initiatives. Suffice to say I will be sending an email to my representatives (similar to yours) suggesting this as well for NJ.

Thanks for the heads up, and kudos!

That was a great effort which probably was helped along by the Cheifdelphi community. Although there is not immediate $$$ attached to your actions, it is just as important for every FIRST team to send email, faxes, or write letters to their US Congressional members as well as State office holders. I don’t know the exact structure for other FIRST nations but teams in other countries competing in FIRST should follow a similar process of contacting local and national leaders.:wink:

We are stuck out here in Arizona. FIRST is still getting a foothold here. We are doing all we can. We host the state tournament for LEGO, going on 4 years now, we just hosted the state’s 1st VEX qualifying tournament as well. In addittion to competting in FRC events we are attempting to hold the state’s 1st Underwater Robotics event in June. www.h2orobots.org. We were successful at getting audiences with the governor to get her to put after school academic funding in the budget for school to be able to get more FIRST teams out there, but it was defeated in the state government. I guess that is why AZ ranks last in education in the U.S. according to studies that also site funding as the worst in the country. We are going to help get it in the budget proposal again and go lobby for it. We feel like we are definately doing Dean’s home work. Wish us luck!!

I’ll say you are doing Dean’s Homework! Kudos to you for getting into the office of the Governor. Is all this work from just your team or is it a coalition of FIRST teams?


Here’s a lil more on the subject from another THREAD


specifically Kyle Fenton’s post…

We worked through a state legislature and help to craft the bill. We testified when the bill was in comittee and passed unanimously. When it got to the house floor it was cut out. We are not allowed to testify there. We will help get it introduced again but this time we will lobby all the members and hold pep ralley in from of the state capitol. I think we can get more FIRST teams to particpate in the lobbying. Hopefully we won’t have to “carry” the weight ourselves. Our FIRST community is very small in AZ and many teams can barely hang on to just being a team. We need to get stronger and more political as a group. Another highschool in Sierra Vista, Buena H.S. seems to be the next up and coming team to jump in and share in the fight. We are working on getting more teams!!

Great thread!
I did the homework assignment that you issued.:slight_smile:

In central Texas we have teams that are working to hold our ground, to gain ground, to maintain, and to spread FIRST. We’ll get there, I have no doubt. Time, patience, program development, working together, learning from the successes of our peers will pull together and we’ll get there. Successes in the states of Rhode Island, Michigan, and the hard work and efforts in Arizona will help fuel the growth.
Thanks Andrew,

Edit: I read ‘central Texas’ and thought that may be misleading or confusing for those outside of Texas. Central Texas is a term we use here for those that live central. Texas is such a huge state that we define ourselves this way. It is not exclusive by any means, it just helps us all figure out where we are in the state. Weathermen will says things like, “well, here’s what’s going on here in central Texas,” and then they’ll tell us what is going on in the Panhandle or out west or over Houston way. When traveling to meet up with teams from Texas, you cover ground and distance.

Anytime you need help here in Arizona, don’t be afraid to ask. Communication is hard with our teams this spread out (I’m glad to finally see a decent number of Arizona team members here on Chiefdelphi). Alot of us have trouble keeping everything for our teams together, but we can still add a little something to the cause.

And for those who don’t know, 842 is the leading team in Arizona as far as FIRST is concerned. Their Chairman’s awards really aren’t enough of an award for the amount they’ve done for this state.

I can’t wait for the day we finally see that FIRST teams make up the majority of high schools.

While this is outstanding progress, and a very noteworthy accomplishment, work is far from over. If you havn’t yet talked to your representative (and others), do it! And that means local, state, and national legislature reps, not just the US Congress (yeah, I’m one upping Dean’s assignment). Do whatever you can to help advance FIRST in your region.
Luckily for 116 (and thanks to Motorola and Wildstang), we had a chance to speak to several representatives, senators, etc. at the Tap2015 Conference in June (a fair in which dozens of major corporations were showing how they tried to increase America’s standing in math, science, technology and engineering by 2015). Motorola was granted extra space, and was kind enough to ask us to join Wildstang’s FRC team with some of our Vex material to advertise the potential of Vex.
But I bet someone out there has done something better than that (particularly you NH teams!), so we’re not finished, and niether should any other team (and it certainly doesn’t seem like anyone is resting). Keep up the work, and keep spreading FIRST.

Can you pm or email a draft copy of your bill so that I can start the process of getting someone in the Texas Legislature to sponsor a similar bill. Texas history humor, after six State constitutions and reconstruction battles after the Civil War we don’t trust our Legislature enough to meet every year. They operate on the Bienium or every other year for only a 140 days from January - May.


Thanks Donut! We want all the AZ teams to get more attention for all they work they do. We need to get more aggressive at getting peoples attention. We need to talk. We need to get the state legislators to meet us at the Arizona Regional! David Lujan is introducing the bill again, this spring. Maybe we can get as many people possible to lobby their representative. Some good news! We finally got the governor to do the opening ceremonies at LEGO after several years of asking! Here is the video clip. see you at the kickoff if not sooner!


Have fun!

I will find a copy and post it here as soon as possible, my co sponsor, teacher has that stuff. stay tuned! here is the media blast from our governors office about the opening ceremonies for LEGO she attended.


Here is a link to the committe hearing for that bill, with some comments from myself and some of the students
the bill passed out of committee unanomously and died on the floor of the house.

I will the copy of the bill soon, take care!

Here is the link to the bill that was


Thanks man. I wrote, or rather “e-mailed” my congressman and both senators not that it’ll do any good. But I have some hope.


Thanks Allan, I knew you would help me out!

I’m not really politically savy, but I would think that state congressmen might be more recptive to high school students inviting them to the regional competitions or to speak at a meeting/presentation. I think writng to your representitives may do some real good.

Like fund raising, not much may happen at first. It may not be until they hear about your team or FIRST the third or fourth time that they start to notice.

I think this year we are going to make appointments with our reps and visit them. Cna’t hurt.

The post by the student from the Robonauts 118 as well as the idea that students should invite elected officials to competitions sparked the following idea in my head.

What if the government class at FIRST schools had a project whereby they wrote letters to their congressmen as a lesson in civic responsibility? I ran this idea by my principal who is a good reality check for me in regards to school protocol. Here is what she said,

"Andrew -

Fine and a good idea as long as students are able to explore all aspects of the issue and write their true opinion. Don’t want us to be accused of putting words in their mouth to promote a political agenda."

This is good advice and causes me to ponder how does one develop a writing prompt such that it does not lead the class to a single point of view or even that they need to have a point of view on a subject?

Here is my first take at such a prompt.

America has traditionally been a leader in the creation of new technology and it’s application. What kinds of programs or curriculum should the public education system have in place at every school such that America remains a leader in this area?

Provide as much detail as possible that will help define and outline a proposal that you submit to your elected State officials, as well as your elected national representatives.

I got this message from my Rep. At least I tried, and I will keep talking to my Rep about this to try and get something done.

Thank you for taking the time to write my office regarding your interest in establishing robotics teams in Texas public schools. I appreciate your interest in this subject. However, the decision of whether to create a robotics team in one made by state and local officials. I encourage you to contact your Texas state representatives and your local school board with your comments on this issue.

I am doing everything I can at the federal level to ensure that local control over education is maintained. Please do not hesitate to contact me again with questions or concerns.

One-pager in NEMO resources on “How To Contact Your Elected Officials”