If you have a child, niece, nephew, grandchild… who you haven’t been able to convince about the wonders of science maybe the starts on this promo (Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber…) can help convince them. If you want to convince your grandparents science is cool, then maybe they will like the cameos by Steven Tyler and Bono 😛 This is an effort being pushed by will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) and Dean Kamen (US First Founder) to promote science and engineering. Since most politicians don’t seem interested in promoting and supporting science anymore maybe musicians can help turn things around.
I have written about US First, it is a great program. It engages children in learning by taping their curiosity and desire to create. I think learning this way is much more natural and fun and affective than what we have too often in schools today. I know I was bored quite often but was told the adults knew best. Well know I am an adult and I think I was right back then: our education system can, and should be greatly improved. Until then, US First, and similar, programs give kids a good environment for learning that keeps their desire to learn intact.
The For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotic Challenge is a great way to get high school students involved in engineering. Lunacy is the 2009 competition which mimics the low friction environment on the moon (using a slick surface and slick wheels on the robots). For more information see the competition manual and related documents.
As educators statewide push for better science and math education, the popularity of an international robotics competition has grown drastically among Minnesota high schools. The FIRST Robotics competition, where high school students build complicated robots to push a ball along and do other tasks, has 54 Minnesota teams this year, up from just two in 2006.
Area educators attribute the growth to dramatic fundraising by Minnesota technology companies desperate to encourage future engineers and a statewide push to improve science and technology education. “It’s a long-term investment,” said Dr. Stephen Oesterle, senior vice president of medicine and technology for Medtronic, who pushed other companies to donate.
The competition started in New Hampshire in 1992. Now, it includes more than 1,500 teams from around the world. Founded by entrepreneur Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”
Photo by By Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune, from left – Mindy Blom, Schanell Gauna, Andrade and teacher Jill Johnson
Competition events are, in the words of our teams, “full of passion, excitement, joy, and sorrow…the thrill of success and the agony of defeat.” The FIRST Robotics Competition has grown to 33 regional events and the Championship.
I was amazed at how much interest in engineering and science FIRST generated. A lot of students were inspired to look at area of education that they had never ever thought about before.
One of the things I noticed this year was that the number of girls involved in FIRST continues to climb. At the Boston event three of the 44 teams were all girls. All of the teams seemed to have significant numbers of girls. People at FIRST say that there are upwards of 30% girls in the program. That could be better of course but it is growing.
I highly recommend you drop in on one. FIRST has to be seen to really be understood.