Monday, March 4, 2013

Is robotics the key to STEM education?

Last weekend I was one of the fifteen judges for the FIRST Robotics Regional Championship in Myrtle Beach, SC. Have you ever been to an engineering event with these characteristics?

  • Loud music and dancing everything from the YMCA song to the Harlem Shake. I don't mean one or two people, I mean the entire coliseum audience including the judges. 
  • Young people fighting to get on the team by taking math and science courses to qualify.
  • Kids writing marketing plans and going out to sell them to corporations to get funding not just selling magazines, popcorn, or candy bars. 
  • Teams with almost as many adult sponsors and coaches as team members. 
  • Pits that look like NASCAR body shops complete with banners and tools on the wall.
  • Competitors helping each other with engineering challenges so both can compete in the heats against each other.
This is the future of America. I've been working with this group for four years now and couldn't be more pleased. The judges are so dedicated that 12 of the fifteen were repeat judges from last year without pay and with 12 hour days. 
We had 65 high school teams last week. 

This is one great organization.  Check it out. 

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