Even if you're only vaguely informed, you probably know that encouraging students to study STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – has been a hot education topic for the last several years.
Many middle and high schools have jumped on board with clubs such as math team and science Olympiad. Robotics clubs have also grown popular, encouraging students to engage in engineering and technology, inspiring innovation and fostering leadership and self-confidence. These are all fantastic attributes for students thinking of pursuing a STEM-related major.
Since college doesn't come cheap, we recommend pursuing scholarships that match your interests. Your love for tinkering and your active participation on your school's robotics team can pay off with the following scholarships for robot enthusiasts.
[Find out more about STEM scholarships for aspiring scientists.]
If you're on your high school's robotics team, you've likely heard of FIRST, the nonprofit founded more than 20 years ago that, according to its website, "designs accessible, innovative programs" that help young students build "self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills."
More than 350,000 students from around the country participate in a FIRST program or competition. But you may not have known that FIRST offers more than 875 college scholarship opportunities, and last year awarded over $16 million.
The FIRST scholarship program can be your ticket to not only being recognized for the skills you've gained through your participation on a robotics team, but also leave you with a sizable monetary award to help pay for college.
[Learn how colleges are working to support STEM majors.]
Many of the program's scholarships are dedicated to specific schools, states or regions. You can use the organization's website to find scholarships that you'll be eligible for.
One national opportunity worth mentioning is the Gates Corporation's FIRST Scholarships, which include six merit-based scholarships worth $2,000. These are awarded to high school seniors who have participated on a 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition team. The 2014 application isn't due until next May, so you have plenty of time to apply.
If you build robots, you probably think of yourself as an innovator. Consider participating in the Intel Science Talent Search, a national competition designed to recognize student achievement and inspire innovation in science, technology, engineering and math.
[Consider these 11 college majors that lead to jobs.]
Each year, more than 1,700 high school seniors conduct original research projects and present their work at the Intel Science Talent Search and forty finalists are then chosen to participate in a weeklong event in Washington, D.C. Students compete for more than $1.25 million in awards and scholarships, including a grand prize scholarship worth $100,000.
If you're thinking of participating this year, make sure you check out these important deadlines so you don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity.
And finally, we've got one award to highlight specifically for young women who are passionate about technology and considering a major in computer science, computer engineering or a closely related technical field.
The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, in honor of renowned computer scientist Anita Borg, strives to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field. Winners receive a generous $10,000 scholarship and are invited to attend the annual Google Scholars' Retreat in Mountain View, Calif. The application opens in early 2014 and you can check their website for more details.
Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.