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THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club

Former NASA engineer working to expose local minorities to STEM world through robots

Frank Robinson Jr., helped launch the STEM2 Hub program which helped developed THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club robotics program. [TRAVIS GIBSON/THE RECORD]

Frank Robinson Jr., helped launch the STEM2 Hub program which helped developed THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club robotics program. [TRAVIS GIBSON/THE RECORD]

By Travis Gibson - During his more than 30 years working as an engineer for NASA, Frank Robinson Jr. remembers meeting after meeting where he was the only person of color sitting at the table. In order to help facilitate the change, Robinson and others launched the STEM2 Hub program in Northeast Florida three years ago. One of the goals of the program is to get more female students and students of color interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM.

Kailani Russ, THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club member, works with Club mates to build out mission course or competitions.

Kailani Russ, THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club member, works with Club mates to build out mission course or competitions.

Two years ago, STEM2 Hub helped launch the robotics program at the St. Augustine Boys and Girls Club. The club received two LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core sets, a robotic LEGO set with a CPU that helps students learn how to program and problem solve.

“We are just trying to get the kids to see there are other things to do than gossip, play on the phone, go in the gym,” said Quentin Forney, leader of the club that currently has about five members. “You can use your mind to figure out how to do stuff and create stuff.”

Once the students build it, they learn to program the Mars-rover-like robot to complete specific missions. Then they take the robot to participate in timed competitions against other robotics teams around the area.

“I love to build. It’s just fun,” said eighth-grader Kailani Russ, a member of the robotics team at the Boys and Girls club. Two weeks ago, Russ helped lead her team to a second-place finish in a Mars-themed competition. She hopes to eventually get a job at NASA, just like Robinson.

Robinson’s inspiration was Dr. Julian Earls, a black man and NASA physicist, who eventually became the director of the NASA Glenn Research Center. Robinson first saw Earls speak at his brother’s graduation when he was 16 years old.

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Chimes Installed at City Park Commemorates St. Augustine's Role in Civil Rights

On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death Wednesday, city leaders, community organizers, school children and residents celebrated the completion of a decade-long project designed to bring meaning to the Dr. Robert F. Hayling Freedom Park.

The green space set on a bluff overlooking the San Sebastian and Matanzas rivers was dedicated last year in honor of one of St. Augustine’s own leaders in the civil rights movement. Hayling, through his activism, was instrumental in bringing King to the city in 1964 — a visit many consider pivotal in pushing forward legislation that led to desegregation.

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THE PLAYERS Championship Donates Vans to Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida

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THE PLAYERS served as the presenting sponsor for the MOSAIC Group's Training U: Sports and Business Education Forum Feb. 16 at TPC Sawgrass – the event saw over 150 local area high school students in lower socioeconomic situations learn about job opportunities in the sports industry...

Additionally, THE PLAYERS' Executive Director Jared Rice announced the donation of three new vans to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida. Students and their teachers then posed for a photo in front of the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse building to conclude the event.

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