Gift Supports West Virginia FIRST LEGO League

Thursday, April 16, 2015

STEM Enterprise has made a $10,000 contribution through the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. in support of the West Virginia FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) robotics program for the 2015-2016 season. The NASA IV&V Educator Resource Center coordinates the statewide tournament that has is hosted in Fairmont by Fairmont State University’s College of Science and Technology each year.

Cherie Bharti, CEO of STEM Enterprise, a Morgantown-based non-profit dedicated to the advancement of STEM educational opportunities for students, presented the gift on Thursday, April 16, to Ron Tucker, Chairman of the FSU Board of Governors, and to Dr. Maria Rose, FSU President, in support of the West Virginia FLL program. 

“We live in a society where education is not always delivered at equal levels, and we need to spread the excitement of learning as much as possible, if not through books than through a combo of books and games. And FLL is just doing it right, which is why I support it and will continue to do so,” said Bharti, who describes the mission of STEM Enterprise as working to improve educational equality.

“The ongoing support of STEM Enterprise has enabled the West Virginia FLL program to expand our tournament series from one event to six last year and 10 this coming year,” said FLL Director Todd Ensign. “In addition, Cherie challenged us to leverage this donation to also offer FLL summer camps for the first time ever. I’m proud to say that we have already scheduled four weeks of camp that will impact 80 students across the entire state this June and July.”

Bharti is not only a sponsor; her son Vijay and daughter Dolly, both students at Morgantown High School, have participated in the competition, and Bharti has been a FLL team coach for several years. This season, Bharti said she expects to be a “full-time coach” doubling the number of teams she personally mentors under STEM Enterprise from two to four because of the overwhelming interest of students and parents. 

The FSU College of Science and Technology hosted the 2014-2015 robotics tournament on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, on FSU’s main campus. Sponsors of this year’s competition were the WV Space Grant Consortium, NASA IV&V and FSU. 

“Fairmont State University is proud to support the West Virginia FIRST® LEGO® League tournament, which provides an exciting opportunity for middle school students to gain hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles, as well as teamwork and problem solving,” Rose said. “The College of Science and Technology is honored to host the more than 1,000 visitors this event brings to our campus.”

In the 2014 World Class challenge, approximately 1,000 children, ages 9 to 14, from 30 West Virginia counties, explored the future of learning. 

“Through the 2015 challenge, Trash Trek, we hope to have teams in over 40 West Virginia counties exploring the fascinating world of trash. From collection, to sorting, to smart production and reuse, there is more to your trash than meets the eye,” Ensign said.

The 2015-2016 statewide championship tournament will take place on Dec. 5, 2015, at the Falcon Center on the FSU campus.

The FLL is part of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) organization, an international nonprofit agency with the mission of inspiring the future workforce to appreciate the excitement and personal rewards of a career in science and technology. In partnership with LEGO®, the FLL is an international robotics program in which teams of young people assemble and compete with robots that are designed to accomplish tasks associated with a real-world challenge.