I have never come across someone who sees a robotics competition and walks away unexcited. When I tell people about my students, their first impression is to jeer at the "nerds" and I smile because they have no idea that the tables have turned. You see, sports and entertainment will always have a place in our society but there is a new source of excitement and inspiration and that is Robotics. Neal Bascomb in his book, The New Cool, gives those who are yet unaware a peek inside this world.
The book revolves around FRC Team 1717 the D'Penguineers. Led by their passionate mentor Amir Abo-Shaeer, the story follows the team through their 6 week build process for the FRC game Lunacy (see the game animation below)
The book gives an uncanny immersion into the world of FRC and allows you to feel every emotion that is experienced by the team. As Amir said at the San Diego regional, this book could have been written about any team because there is this common exhaustion and yet joy that comes from seeing students design, build, program, and compete with a robot from the ground up.
Just as modern marketers were wise to target the baby boomers and their kids with consumer ads, FIRST literally stands For Inspriation and Recognition of Science and Technology and the organization works toward that goal with a passion. This generation is empowered to create as no other generation has ever been with technology and resources being readily available and the results of what they build and learn is the coolest thing ever.
I was forever changed when I started working with Eileen and her amazing team 1515, what is astounding is that up until last year there were still some who did not know that the school had a robotics team. If you are a teacher, you have the best job of all as you can start a team where there was not one before. There are competitions of all kinds to fit all situations and if you need help post a comment and we will point you in the right direction.
If you are a student, hurry up and find/start a team. My team was founded by students and you might be the one that has the vision to get one going at your school. I promise you there are other students just like you who would love to be a part of this and you will learn, do, and connect in a way you never thought possible.
Adults who are outside of education, lend your talents and gifts to this generation. They need it now more than ever before. Whatever you are knowledgeable or passionate about, a robotics team can use you. Marketing, engineering, programming, team support, there is no one who is unable to help a team get started and flourish. If you have the means to financially support a team please find your local mentor and do so (and if you are in the Southern California area check out Chaos Vortex)!
As team 1717's mentor Amir has said, "this is what education should be," and he is absolutely right. Check out The New Cool because this is what everyone is talking about.
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