2010 VEX Mentor of the Year

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Steve Rhoads and Foster Schucker win 2010 VEX Mentor of the Year at the Clean Sweep VEX World Championship.

From the Awards Guidelines: This award is given to a mentor or engineer that has helped their students achieve goals that were seemingly out of reach. This individual is a role model, a leader and an extraordinary mentor who helps show students new ways to expand their knowledge and solve problems in the worlds of STEM. The recipient of this award will be nominated by the students on their team with a written submission detailing how the mentor inspires, motivates and educates students in a positive, enthusiastic and challenging atmosphere.

Both of the Downingtown teams that attended worlds this year submitted nominations for Steve & Foster. We are told other teams from our area that had the fortune of receiving their guidance also submitted nominations, more than any other mentors. Below is the submission that was read to the more than 400 teams in attendance from around the World at the 2010 Vex World Championships.

I am the parent coach of team 81. In July 2009 at my local township fair my son and I walked up to a man demonstrating some large erector sets. Without hesitation he put the controller into my sons hands. Over the next 45 minutes Steve Rhoads hooked us both on Vex Robotics with his incredible enthusiasm. I signed on to coach a team at the local program he and his partner Foster Schucker started.

Every Wednesday night Steve & Foster can be found at our robot club teaching anyone who walks through the door. Steve is a gifted teacher with a contagious energy for science. Foster has a passion for robotics and the dedication and focus needed to not just create teams but create communities of roboteers.

The first night we attended was off season. There was no beginning instruction going on. My son was lost and ready to leave. Steve saw my son and another new boy and started a beginning class on the spot. This was the first time I witnessed his teaching in action. By the end of the night nerves were gone and they were ready to build robots.

Steve and Foster also offer free mentor training . I took part in this 7 week class and was again amazed by the passion they had for teaching. They took the time to show us how to build & program robots and also how to engage and inspire the students. This program is having an impact by creating more opportunities for children to lean. This is where I leaned of Foster & Steve’s nonprofit STEM Robotics and their goal to create a community of Robot clubs to support each other in the Philadelphia area. My son and I had the opportunity to accompany them to schools and community centers where we had fun inspiring new programs to start.

They are constantly trying to come up with new ways to improve the program to reach more kids. One result of this is Steve’s “Technomages”. A group of kids from our club who showed an interest in programming. They have been taught Steve’s style of “Combat Coding” to help robots in trouble get on the field and compete at events. I have witnessed this amazing group selflessly volunteer to assist anyone in need at an event. More than one team at Worlds would not have had a chance to qualify without their assistance.

When not mentoring at our club he they are out volunteering this time at events all across the area. Steve even won Volunteer of the year at a recent NJ event. Everyone I meet at events know Steve and Foster and has been grateful for their assistance.

Their efforts have had a profound effect on me personally. My son has thrived in the Vex program. Our team won and excellence award at a local event and now we will be attending Worlds. I have gone from parent to coach and next year will take over the operations of our local club as Foster moves on to open the next. A phenomenal adventure made possible by the efforts of Foster & Steve.

Congratulations Foster & Steve on this well deserved honor!

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