Parents invited to learn about youth robotics training

The new school year is coming quickly and brings a new crop of students itching to get their hands on a robot. One of the easiest ways to help youth find their way to a robot is to get involved with FIRST robotics, said a press release.

FIRST is a national program with a sports-like model where students meet as teams over several months to prepare for a competition. There are FIRST programs in the Gorge for students ages 6-18.

Parents who have students interested in robotics are encouraged to consider coaching a First Lego League (FLL) team for students ages 9-14. This is a great introduction to robotics, said the press release. Teams of three to 10 students begin meeting as school starts to prepare for one of the Gorge Qualifying Tournaments held Dec 8, 9 and 15. Parent coaches do not need to understand robots or programming; their main duty is helping the students focus and navigating the competition challenges.

Two free trainings are planned to help parents and volunteers serve as FLL coaches: On Aug. 20 and 21 the Gorge STEM Hub hosts a free, two-day deeper dive for robotics coaches as part of their STEM Symposium at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center in The Dalles; on Sept. 22, the Gorge Tech Alliance (GTA) brings Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program to the Oregon State University Extension Center in Hood River for a free, one-day coach training.

Additionally, the GTA has free robots and laptops for loan to support teams and can also point teams towards scholarships for school-based teams. Find registration links and more information about robotics in the Gorge at, a service of the GTA.

The GTA’s equipment for loan and support of robotics events is made possible by regional tech businesses including Google, Insitu and others. GTA is a non-profit industry association that seeks to support, connect and develop the technology community of the Gorge. Learn more at

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