OLYMPIA – Today the FIRST Robotics board of directors voted to welcome Rep. Kristine Lytton (D – Anacortes) as its newest member. Lytton is a long-time supporter of the program, a nonprofit that introduces kids ages 6-18 to the world of science, technology and teamwork.
FIRST Robotics uses competitive robot-building as a way to engage students in the science, engineering and mathematical skills that are becoming an increasing demand in the workplace. Last season drew more than 11,000 youth participants in Washington and Oregon, who built robots and competed in teams against each other at various age groups.
Lytton helped secure $1.4 million for the program in the 2015-2017 budget — an increase of about $800,000 from the previous budget.
“FIRST Robotics is an invaluable extra-curricular that introduces our kids to the skills they need to get ahead in the economy of the future,” Lytton said. “Equally important, this program has an incredible benefit for girls and children of color, who continue to be underrepresented in the science and technology fields. By ensuring all students have the same opportunity to learn hands-on skills we can build diversity in the STEM fields and ultimately a more prosperous, inventive economy.”
Statistics from FIRST Robotics show the program helps kids become more interested in future STEM careers: after the program, 66 percent of the female students who participated said they were more interested in a STEM career, while 43 percent of male students said they were more interested.
“We are thrilled to have Representative Lytton join our board at Washington FIRST Robotics,” said board president Erin McCallum. “Representative Lytton is a strong advocate for STEM education and providing STEM opportunities for all young people in the state, and we look forward to working alongside her in ensuring all students are prepared for the careers of tomorrow.”
Lytton, who was also just elected by her colleagues to serve as the House of Representatives Finance Committee chair, will begin her responsibilities on the FIRST Robotics board immediately.