MLWGS School Board Member Javaid Siddiqi, House Member Dawn Adams, Virginia Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, Outreach representatives for US Congressman Donald McEachin, and others will be in attendance. Team members from the Mech Tech Dragons, who come from 9 of the 12 jurisdictions Maggie Walker draws from, will be matched with their representatives and will give a tour of the school and its facilities, with a focus on the facets of robotics.
The Mech Tech Dragons are celebrating their 20th year of continuous operation. Since 1999, they have expanded from a team that builds a robot to an organization with tangible community impact – reaching 38,000 people over the past 5 years through demos, presentations, or otherwise interacting with people at events in the Richmond community such as a Flying Squirrels game, VA State Fair, etc.; reaching 15,000 people alone since 2018. The team has grown since its inception not only in size (from 14 members to 68) but in diversity as well. Members of the team have participated in Girls in STEM camps, spoken to NPR and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and hosted an annual community STEM Event for 130 middle schoolers from 3 surrounding counties. They operate on a $40,000 annual budget, which they raise funds for a year in advance by reaching out to community sponsors. To continue their drive for community sustainability, they have given $3,000 in grants to other robotics teams in Richmond.
As exemplified by the upcoming Legislative Open House, Maggie Walker’s robotics team enjoys a unique syncretism between STEM and government, following the Governor’s School’s focus on the humanities. Team members have traveled to Capitol Hill for the past 4 years to advocate for STEM-based laws with their national representatives, speaking with Senators Kaine and Warner, as well as multiple House Representatives – they discussed funding re-appropriation for ESSA Title IV Part A, a flexible block grant that authorizes funds for afterschool STEM programs.
The team has had a string of successes over the past year, going all the way to quarter-finals at the World Championship stage last April, and winning the Engineering Inspiration, Entrepreneurship, and Chairman’s Awards for its efforts in STEM outreach, fundraising, and community impact, respectively. The Mech Tech Dragons also make non-STEM impacts on their community, donating 500+ lbs of peanut butter to the local food bank, 50 lbs of school supplies to the Richmond Teacher Store, and 25 lbs of toys and can tabs to the Richmond Ronald McDonald House annually. Those wishing to make a business or individual contribution to team’s various drives may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.