Verizon Helps At-Risk, Washington-Area Youth Develop Passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Through 10-Week Robotics Program

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Eric Liley
Company IT Volunteers Mentored Youth at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington; Feb. 6 Closing Ceremony Recognizes Students’ Achievements

WASHINGTON – Youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington now know firsthand what it takes to build robots and understand the significant role robots play in society – thanks to a 10-week program delivered by a team of Verizon information technology volunteers.

Eighteen club members, ages 9 to 14, from the Richard England Clubhouse #14 and Hopkins Branch Club received recognition for their achievements at a special closing ceremony Wednesday (Feb. 6) at the Boys & Girls Clubs facility in Northeast Washington. 

“This initiative is part of Verizon’s ongoing commitment to community service and the youth at Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Angela M. Congo, Verizon’s director of information technology and executive sponsor of the community outreach program.  “The program was designed to emphasize the real-life, everyday use of robots in our society and generate interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM].  

“Our goal was to demystify the knowledge and skills needed to pursue technical careers by offering students hands-on experience through our robotics program,” Congo added.  “We are so pleased at the excitement this program has generated and, more importantly, at what the students have learned and were able to accomplish.” 

During the closing ceremony, students displayed the robots they created and shared their experiences in the robotics program.  Verizon awarded each student an iPod Shuffle and a variety of other prizes. 

Pandit F. Wright, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, said: “During after-school hours in America, approximately 15 million children are at home with no adult care or supervision.  Support from partners like Verizon is critical to ensuring that every child we serve has a safe and positive place to go after school.  We are grateful for the work Verizon and its employees have done with creating impactful character-building programs for our young people.” 

At the program’s kickoff session last September, students saw different examples of robots performing many critical, automated tasks ranging from basic mathematic functions to brain surgery.  

The students learned that robots take many forms, such as humanoid, submersible and industrial.  And the students were exposed to famous robots, such as the Mars Rover; the British Petroleum remotely operated vehicle that was essential to cleaning up the Gulf oil spill; and Asimov, a humanoid robot that walks, climbs stairs and supports the disabled. 

Congo said: “The Verizon volunteer team, with support from the Boys & Girls Clubs staff, set out to ensure that our budding technologists had a challenging, informative and fun experience while applying STEM concepts to build, program and operate their robots.  Each week promised new learning opportunities.” 

Students successfully completed the program and built fully functional robots capable of navigating with programmed commands; reporting sensor status with light and sound; and escaping contact by touch using whisker sensors. 

Verizon’s information technology team, which has members around the world, has partnered with organizations that help at-risk, disadvantaged and underprivileged youth by mentoring and training them in technology, leadership and literacy.  These organizations include local Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools and other community-based groups.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington
Celebrating 126 years of continuous service to children, teens and families, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) is one of the largest affiliates of Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).  BGCGW serves over 16,500 youth annually at 18 sites throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, including Camp Brown, a 168-acre residential summer camp.  Through a variety of educational, sports and recreation, health, arts, and character development programs, BGCGW creates a positive environment where children are encouraged to develop their ambitions and turn them into GREAT FUTURES.  BGCGW helps boys and girls of all backgrounds, especially those who need us most, build confidence, develop character, and acquire skills that prepare them for school and for life as productive, civic-minded and responsible adults.  For more information, please call 202-540-2300 or visit our website at www.bgcgw.org.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 98 million retail connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with nearly $116 billion in 2012 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 183,400.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.