STEM Success: Bill to increase support for robotics programs in schools passes

Bipartisan legislation that would establish a pilot program in the Department of Education to support FIRST Robotics Programs in school districts recently was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Sparta), who sponsored the bill, said it could have big impact.

“All of the available data clearly shows that STEM fields are some of the fastest-growing in the country and will continue to be for some time,” he said. “My legislation will put science, technology, engineering and mathematics front and center in select New Jersey schools and inspire students to pursue education and career opportunities in those fields.”

The legislation requires the DOE commissioner to establish a three-year pilot program that provides grants to school districts to establish “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” Robotics Programs and participate in a FIRST Robotics Competition.

FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. The 2020 competition marked the 29th anniversary of the FIRST Robotics Competition.

The event drew 3,898 teams (more than 97,000 students) and 29,000 mentors from 34 countries.

“This pilot program will not only increase opportunities for students to participate in FIRST Robotics Competitions, but it will provide us with a roadmap on how to make New Jersey a leader in STEM degrees and jobs,” Oroho said.