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Director's Weekly Memo 2016-1-11

STEM grants available; 2016 FIRST Robotics competition kicks off; ODCTE, SDE hold transcript training sessions for registrars; useful links and my schedule for the week.

2016 FIRST Robotics competition kicks off

More than 850 high school students attended kickoff events Saturday in Stillwater and Tulsa for Oklahoma’s 2016 FIRST Robotics competition, FIRST Stronghold.

FIRST Robotics is an annual program that challenges high school students working alongside professional mentors to construct robots of their own for the competition, which measures the effectiveness of each robot, the power of teamwork and collaboration and gracious professionalism.

The Stillwater and Tulsa kickoff events were two of 114 events taking place worldwide on the same day. This is Oklahoma’s ninth year to participate in the FIRST Robotics competition.

The students and their team educator sponsors and mentors were shown the FIRST Stronghold game field and challenge details for the first time at the kickoff events, and the teams received kits of parts: motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials and additional automation components.

Seventeen of the 60 Oklahoma teams were at the Tulsa kickoff (337 students), and 35 teams were at the Stillwater kickoff (515 students). Teams from outside Oklahoma watched online and will have their materials mailed to them. The teams have six weeks to design and build a robot to meet this year’s engineering challenge.

The 2016 season will include more than 3,000 teams worldwide (75,000 high-school students) participating in 118 regional and district events. More information about FIRST Stronghold is available at

STEM grants available

Schools with Gateway to Technology programs or those interested in starting the program for sixth- through eighth-graders can apply this month for grants. Applications for Carl Perkins Supplemental Gateway to Technology grants are due Jan. 29.

Oklahoma CareerTech Gateway To Technology Education is designed to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and prepare students for further study in high school. The program focuses on allowing students to use STEM skills to solve everyday problems. Featuring project-based curriculum, Gateway to Technology is designed to challenge and engage students’ natural curiosity and imagination.

If your school is interested in starting a Gateway to Technology program, please contact the STEM division at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Sara Wright will be happy to discuss the benefits of this excellent program. You can download the application packet at the Carl Perkins Supplemental Grant Resource website.
You can contact Wright at

ODCTE, SDE hold transcript training sessions for registrars

ODCTE’s Career and Academic Connections Division, in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, recently presented five “Transcript Training for Registrars” workshops to 304 participants.

The goal of these workshops was to bring together registrars, counselors, administrators and technology center student services staff members to discuss the importance of correctly using OCAS codes in recording information on students’ transcripts. Topics included how to transcript CareerTech courses, testing notes on transcripts, using correct course titles and the ACE cumulative record.

“The response to this workshop was overwhelming,” said Tommi Leach, Oklahoma CareerTech academic coordinator. “The key to correctly transcripting student records is communication – communication between the local high schools, the technology centers, the SDE and ODCTE. Everyone wants to do it correctly. We need to continue to work together to make that communication possible.”


Useful links

Oklahoma Horizon Schedule

For daily news about Oklahoma’s CareerTech System, follow us on Twitter at @okcareertech and find us on Facebook at OKCareerTech.

State Agency Assistance at a Glance

National Center for Research in Career and Technical Education

Lifelong Learning Foundations newsletters


This week

Senior leadership

Staff evaluations

Horizon taping

Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance


Education leaders meeting

Legislative meeting

Moore Norman lunch and learn

OSU teacher certification

Bulgarian group visit

SkillsUSA executive group


WIOA core partners meeting


Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” Unknown
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