Middle and high school officials interested in earning a $1,500 grant to improve or expand their robotics programs have until Aug. 31 to apply, according to the Alabama State Department of Education. Winners will be announced by Oct. 1. . . . Computer science professor Jeff Gray oversees the University of Alabama’s annual robotics competition and is co-chair of Gov. Kay Ivey’s Computer Science Advisory Council. “What robotics can do is provide that great spark of interest,” Gray said. “[Students] can touch it and watch it move around.” Kids get curious about the robots and want to make that happen for themselves, he said.