Pee Dee robotics competition promotes STEM skills, programs for students

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT
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HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WMBF) - High school students across South Carolina are going head to head with robots for the first time in the Pee Dee.

FIRST South Carolina hosted their inaugural event at Coker University in Hartsville in hopes to bring exposure to high school students interested in science and technology who live in rural or underserved communities.

Students will be using their STEM skills to compete in the competition.

Hundreds of high school robotics students from across the state will compete to earn a spot at the Peachtree District Championship.

Amongst those teams are local Pee Dee high schools like Clover Eagle Robotics, Florence’s Technomancers, and the Technical Terminators from Mullins.

The nonprofit robotics focuses on helping students gain the skill set needed to pursue a career in STEM.

In this robotic competition students will learn how to design, prototype, build robots and learn how to code.

“One of the reasons we wanted to come to the Pee Dee area is because this is an area of need. There is a population here that is underserved. This is an easy, fun and positive way to get those kids access to STEM experience so they can put on their resume and say look I helped build this robot,” said Giselle Cheeseman, Executive Director for FIRST South Carolina.

Cheeseman also mentions that students will have the opportunity to win a scholarship worth $80 million. This exposure can help students pursue college and even careers beyond that.

Not only that, but the nonprofit exposes students to the necessary skill sets for specific jobs.

“Coding, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering wiring. They just learn all those hands-on STEM skills that they desperately need,” said Cheeseman.

The organization is also aiming to host more competitions across the state to help more underserved communities.

Roy Kemp is a teacher from Charleston who said he made the trip to help his students get what they need.

“It’s so terribly important because the future is rapidly changing and if we don’t give the kids the opportunity to see what is out there they won’t know to make these choices. It makes a difference in the world,” said Kemp.

The winner of this championship will travel to Georgia for the district championship next month.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.