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South Florida students celebrate STEM day at the Florida Capitol

Students from five South Florida high schools dazzled lawmakers with their robotics skills Tuesday.

It was part of a celebration of STEM education. (That's science, technology, engineering and math, if you've been living under a rock.)

Joining the students: Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and Department of Economic Opportunity Director Jesse Panuccio.

"Florida is laser-focused on being a global leader for jobs and a critical component of that must be the development of a talented workforce," Lopez-Cantera said. "We are proud of the work our students are doing to learn about what it takes to compete in today's global economy."

The students came from TERRA Environmental Research Institute in Miami-Dade, Western High School in Davie, NOVA High School in Davie, West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines, and North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek. They belong to teams participating in the FIRST Robotics national competition.

Patrick Hermes, who directs the Northwest Florida Regional Tournament for FIRST, said the teens were gaining skills that would help them in the workforce.

"Today they are competing in robotics competitions," he said. "But tomorrow they will be using this technology for the greater good, helping to improve healthcare, transportation, and even our nation's space program."

Tuesday's celebration was sponsored by Florida FIRST Robotics and the Motorola Solutions Foundation, which has invested nearly $2 million in STEM-related education in Florida since 2007.