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Bringing engineering opportunities to Title I schools

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Lawrence High School

FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1289, Gearheadz, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Lawrence High School, part of a largely Hispanic, Title I urban school district in Massachusetts, aims to provide students with high-quality enrichment opportunities comparable to those available to their suburban peers. With opportunities for hands-on STEM engagement, FIRST fits that bill.


Lawrence Public Schools, a high-poverty Title 1 school district in Massachusetts, serves 14,000 students. More than 90 percent of the students are Hispanic, 63 percent are economically disadvantaged, and 31 percent are English language learners. Though resources are constrained, Lawrence High School aims to provide students with high-quality enrichment opportunities.

Providing Opportunities

With the support of local team Sponsors and a group of dedicated Mentors, Lawrence started a FIRST Robotics Competition team in 2004. Each year, the robotics team welcomes a diverse group of up to 60 students to gain confidence, leadership skills, and hands-on engineering experience. The team has helped reluctant students graduate, students who excel in math and science discover engineering, and many more promising students find scholarships, internships, and jobs.

Student Spotlight

Miguel De Jesus joined the team as a shy freshman, but with the encouragement of the Mentors, he came out of his shell to become a confident public speaker and the team’s president. Miguel plans to join the military after graduating Lawrence. “I don’t really know where I would be if it weren’t for what robotics has taught me when it comes to communications, sportsmanship, and technology,” he said.

“It was really empowering that I had a group of friends and Mentors who were patient with me, and willing to show me how to build. I think I had been really intimidated by engineering, up until that point.” – Cassie Hudson, FIRST Alumna, Gearheadz; Applications Engineer, MagneMotion, Inc., A Rockwell Automation Company

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