DaVinci School for Science & the Arts Receives $10,000 Grant from The Communities Foundation of Texas: Grant to be used for entry in FIRST Robotics Competition

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The DaVinci School for Science & the Arts will enter the 2009 FIRST Robotics Competition thanks to a $10,000 grant from The Communities Foundation of Texas, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundations.

The DaVinci School for Science & the Arts will enter the 2009 FIRST Robotics Competition thanks to a $10,000 grant from The Communities Foundation of Texas, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundations.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics is a multinational non-profit organization that seeks to use robotic competition to inspire youngsters to enjoy the challenges of science, technology, engineering and math as much as sports. The goal of FIRST Robotics Competition is to promote a paradigm shift that engages young people in design competitions with the same enthusiasm as our culture has promoted athletic events.

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard "kit of parts" and a common set of rules. Working with mentors and professional adults, the students learn how to think like problem solvers and reap the joy and self-esteem from using their skills and knowledge in a highly charged atmosphere of creativity, teamwork and rivalry. Teams build robots from the parts and enter them in competitions designed by Dean Kamen, Dr. Woodie Flowers, and a committee of engineers and other professionals.

The 2009 competition tasks students with configuring the robots to move on a light gravity surface and throw or shoot light balls into a basket. As a tribute to former University of Texas El Paso basketball coach Don Haskins, who passed away in September 2008, DaVinci students will create both robots that shoot light weight balls as well as those that work to block the shots.

Over the next six weeks, ten teams of students in DaVinci's ninth-grade engineering class will apply their expertise in science and math to the robotics challenge, collaborating to build a robot and completing other interdisciplinary tasks as part of their course curriculum. In addition, students will apply their media skills to making a documentary of the project. It is hoped that participation in this event will inspire youngsters to pursue STEM courses and enter related fields of study as they move on to college and beyond.

"We are grateful for the funding to enter the First Robotic Competition," said Iris Burnham, Superintendent and Founder of the Burnham Wood Charter School District and President of the El Paso Education Initiative, Inc., a non-profit organization which serves as charter holder for the district. "The DaVinci School is deeply committed to comprehensive education in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) subjects and we are excited to offer students the opportunity to apply the skills they are learning in all of their academics to competing in the First Robot competition."

Established in 1953, The Communities Foundation of Texas seeks to improve lives and serve the community by making effective charitable grants. Since its inception, the Dallas-based Foundation has given more than $900 million in grants and is one of the nation's largest community foundations, in terms of total assets, gifts received and grants awarded.

Currently serving grades 6-9, the DaVinci School for Science & the Arts is expanding with a plan to add one grade level per year until it serves grades 6-12. For more information on the school and its building project, visit http://www.burnhamwood.org.

About DaVinci School for Science & the Arts
The DaVinci School for Science & the Arts is a charter school that is able to break through and have a positive impact on the academic progress of its students, including low-income students and racial/ethnic subgroups as evidenced through test scores and an "exemplary" rating from the Texas Education Agency. The school is part of a larger charter district - Burnham Wood Charter - which has implemented a consistent and proven educational model for success and has earned an exemplary rating as a district. In particular, DaVinci is focused on more effective, deeper education in the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and math. To learn more visit http://www.burnhamwood.org.


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Jessica Lyon

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