The award-winning Morgantown robotics team that helped establish more than 120 robotics teams in West Virginia will visit the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 18th, 2016, accompanied by Marvin, their robot.
The visit was organized by Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, who said, “One of the issues we had to think about in arranging this visit was whether the robot had to go through the metal detectors. As far as I know, this will be the first time a robot has visited the Capitol.” The Capitol has added new security precautions this year including a metal detector.
Team founder, Dr. Earl Scime, will accompany the team. He said legislators will have the opportunity to “drive” Marvin around the rotunda while they are there this morning.
The Mountaineer Area RoboticS (MARS) program was founded in 2008 by Scime and the late Phil Tucker to encourage middle and high school students to explore STEM and robotics. The program has expanded into middle and elementary schools since its founding.
In recognition of the work they have done, the West Virginia House of Delegates has chosen to honor the passion this MARS team has shown and recognize them for their accomplishments and service in expanding STEM throughout the state.
Scime said what they would like from the visit to the Capitol is visibility. “We would like the state leadership to get to recognize that there is more to high school than sports and classes. We are striving toward making middle and high school robotics a sport in West Virginia schools.”
The team lost a very popular mentor, Phil Tucker, last year and is doing a number of things to keep his memory active in the club. One, an entry into this year’s video parody contest, turned “Margaritaville” turned “Tuckerville” won an Honorable Mention in the national contest.
“I hope the MARS program spreads to all 55 counties,” Fleischauer said, “One of our priorities has to be getting more kids to graduate college and this is a fun way to motivate them to do that.”
MARS graduates have an astonishing 98% college-going rate, with 82% majoring in STEM fields, she said.