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Viewpoint School Robotics Team Advocates for STEM Education Funding at National Advocacy Conference
Viewpoint School Robotics Team Advocates for STEM Education Funding at National Advocacy Conference

Viewpoint School’s FIRST Robotics Team 2584 Flame of the West joined forces with more than 280 robotics students in the nation's capital for the prestigious 10th annual National Advocacy Conference. Spearheaded by Jessica Cao '24 and Hadas Ben-David '24, alongside the guidance of 2584 Mentor Nancy Argano-Rush, these passionate young advocates from California made their mark at the Student Association for STEM Advocacy (SASA) conference.

The National Advocacy Conference, held over three days, provided a platform for future innovators like Jessica and Hadas to receive expert training in effective advocacy. Distinguished keynote speakers, including Chris Moore, CEO of FIRST Robotics, imparted wisdom and inspiration to the aspiring advocates.

The pivotal third day of the conference saw these young trailblazers engaging in meetings with congressional staffers from their respective states and districts on Capitol Hill. At the heart of the discussions were the crucial impacts and benefits of robotics teams in underrepresented and underserved communities.

Among the myriad of topics, Viewpoint students passionately advocated for increased appropriations for The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title IV, Part A and Part B, as well as the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Sections 10395 and 10311.

Jessica and Hadas, two of the over 60 robotics students from California attending the conference, met with key staffers from six different districts, including representatives from the offices of California senators, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congressman Tony Cardenas, Congressman Brad Sherman, Congresswoman Julia Brownley, Senator Alex Padilla, and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Following their impactful experience in Washington, the young advocates returned to California, bringing with them newly honed advocacy skills to serve their local and state communities. Currently, Jessica and Hadas are leading efforts to collaborate with 11 robotics teams across California, gearing up to plan the California State Advocacy Conference this Fall. Their ambitious project aims to foster strong connections between robotics teams and local legislators, advocating for sustainable funding for K-12 STEM programs. Central to the state conference's agenda is the advocacy for legislation such as the Expanded Learning Opportunities Programs (ELOP), ensuring a promising future for STEM education.

As the nation strives to cultivate the next generation of innovators, the efforts of Jessica, Hadas, and their fellow robotics enthusiasts stand as a testament to the power of youth-led advocacy, fueling hope for a brighter future in STEM education across the United States.

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