School Kids Get Help to Make Robots

As a corporate supporter for afterschool programs, JCPenney is increasing its support of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) by sponsoring 500 high school teams in the U.S. as they compete in FIRST robotics competitions this spring.

FIRST is a charitable organization whose mission is to inspire students, schools and communities to appreciate and celebrate the limitless potential of science and technology.

Through fast-paced, high-energy, “March Madness” style robotics competitions, FIRST is a growing varsity Sport for the Mind that immerses students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education through competitions to design, build and program robots using engineering principles and a sports model of competition and teamwork.

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“FIRST is an extracurricular activity that aligns with JCPenney’s philanthropic mission of supporting youth development by building positive learning opportunities during the after school hours,” said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and chief executive officer of JCPenney.

On Jan. 8, teams received this season’s challenge, LOGO MOTION, along with a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components — but no instructions.

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Working with coaches and professional mentors, students have six weeks to build a robot that can maneuver a field flanked by poles while earning points by hanging as many logo pieces on each pole as possible.

Bonus points will be awarded for each robot that can hang and assemble pieces to form the FIRST logo as well as deploy a “mini-bot” to climb vertical poles positioned within the middle of the field.

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The challenge not only measures the effectiveness of each robot but also the successful collaboration and Gracious Professionalism demonstrated by the team alliances.

Each sponsored team is linked to a local JCPenney store or distribution center to offer support and assistance as students prepare for their state, regional or district competitions — which are free and open to the public.

By leveraging its national presence and local community involvement, JCPenney plans to sponsor over 1,100 FIRST teams — located in large metropolitan areas to small rural towns — to help boost STEM education and inspire a new generation leading the world’s innovation.

For more information, visit

RMN News

Rakesh Raman