Rockwall High robotics students visit Washington D.C., advocate for STEM funding on Capitol Hill

ROCKWALL, TX (July 20, 2022) Rockwall High School students from FIRST robotics competition Team 1296, Full Metal Jackets, recently attended the 2022 FIRST National Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. to advocate for STEM funding (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) on Capitol Hill to help Title 1 schools get funding. The conference was attended by EVP of Public Relations Isaiah Fosnight, EVP Robotic Operations Audrey Smith, EVP of Business Operations Jackson Griffith, and VP of Scouting Carter deMoville. The conference was attended by 48 teams from 17 states, and 5 of those teams were from Texas. The team was accompanied by Full Metal Jackets Chairman’s mentor Danna Taylor and 1296 teacher sponsor Lane Doughtie.

These students were able to visit several of the incredible sites that our nation’s capital has to offer, including the Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Students and mentors alike then took part in the two-day conference. During the conference, students listened to presentations from multiple speakers and learned the important process of creating and passing bills. Students were taught the basics of talking to members of Congress. After two days of hard work, the students wrote and prepared speeches and were finally ready.

The students then met with staff members of Senator Ted Cruz, Senator John Cornyn and US Representative Pat Fallon. The students then met with another staffer for Representative Pat Fallon to talk about their team’s initiatives, the way robotics has affected their lives and their community. The students communicated to them about the importance of STEM funding and encouraged them to further fund the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and support the passing of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA).

About five years ago, former US Representative John Ratcliffe informed Full Metal Jacket students the US was projected to be 1 million STEM workers by 2022. This led to the creation of STEM Gals. STEM Gals is an offseason robotics competition created and hosted by Team 1296 that promotes women in STEM and features female referees, MC’s, volunteers, drivers, and women in other roles. These past years, Team 1296 worked to make STEM Gals known throughout Texas and in 2019, they were able to make STEM Gals Day an official day in the City of Rockwall and the State of Texas. In addition to STEM Gals, the Full Metal Jackets bought LEGO Spike Kits for each of the elementary schools in Rockwall ISD to spark an interest in younger students. The Full Metal Jackets hope to keep the United States at the forefront of technology by promoting STEM, robotics, and cybersecurity.

Through talking to our congressman, these students from Rockwall High were able to make an impact, and through our hard work, we are changing the world.

By Isaiah Fosnight, Full Metal Jackets EVP Public Relations, for publication in Blue Ribbon News. 





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