Trio Foundation awards grant to Maryville to expand FIRST LEGO Leagues


Maryville University has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Trio Foundation of St. Louis to create six new LEGO competition teams in St. Louis-area public schools with high poverty rates.

The funding awarded in December will allow the University’s Assistant Professor of Gifted Education Steve Coxon, PhD, in collaboration with the FIRST LEGO League Planning Committee of St. Louis, to identify and mentor new teams in the area. It will allow for three new FIRST LEGO League teams and three JuniorFIRST LEGO League teams in Title I schools, or those that have high poverty rates.

One proven __and enjoyable__way of increasing interest and proficiency in science and math is through involvement in FIRST LEGO Leagues. FIRST LEGO League is a robotics program for 9- to 14-year-olds, where students build and program a working LEGO robot to solve problems for points by manipulating LEGO structures based on an annual science theme. The JuniorFIRST LEGO League is for 6- to 9-year-olds. Past themes have included medical technology, food safety, and energy production.

The funded grant project, called Expanding FIRST LEGO League to Diverse Students, will reach about 30 to 48 children in the area on new teams.  “We’ll be working hand-in-hand with the FIRST LEGO League Planning Committee of St. Louis to find and mentor new teams,” Coxon said.  The St. Louis Public School District will be a focus for the new teams, but other districts will be considered as well. Coxon has volunteered with FIRST LEGO League for eight years, serving as a coach, judge and judge advisor.  He is highly experienced in working with Title I schools, having taught in public schools with high poverty rates in urban California and rural Virginia.

Maryville University’s Dean of the School of Education Sam Hausfather, PhD, says, “Dr. Coxon’s clear expertise in LEGO robotics is adding a new layer of partnership opportunities to the School of Education’s already comprehensive network of partner schools in the St. Louis region. The Trio Foundation grant helps us fulfill our mission to provide access to high quality educational opportunities for all learners. ”

The Trio Foundation of St. Louis values community enhancement, fulfillment of human potential and ecological well-being. The Foundation expresses these values through supporting programs that promote independence, equality of opportunity, creativity and environmental preservation.

About Maryville University

Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a four-year, private university located in St. Louis, Mo., and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the National Universities category. Maryville students may choose from 50 undergraduate, 10 master’s and four doctoral degree programs. Nearly 3,900 students are enrolled at Maryville through the College of Arts and Sciences, John E. Simon School of Business, School of Health Professions and the School of Education.