Robotics. Who wants to build a robot? That’s what nerds do, that’s not cool, why would I do that? These are only a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind when my mom suggested I join a robotics team. I was completely against the idea of building a robot with a group of people and competing against other teams across the nation. My mom figured, “she’s only in fourth grade, what does she know? I’ll sign her up anyways.” Low and behold I was suddenly part of a robotics team. This is what robotics is all about: An organization called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition for Science and Technology) was founded by a man by the name of Dean Camen, the same man who invented the Segway. His mission was to start a fun, and challenging “sport for the mind” that would encourage the new generation to show an interest in science and engineering. Through competition, elementary to high school students build and program robots to compete in a game against other robots. There are four divisions of FIRST: JFLL, FLL, FTC, FRC. Each division has a new challenge at the beginning of what is known as “build season.” This organization has changed my life. My first two years I was part of a small team with my best friend, her little brother, and his best friend in the elementary level, FLL (FIRST Lego League). It was plenty fun, although it was nothing compared to the past five years that I have spent on an all-girls team, Einstein’s Daughters. The five of us struggled and started out knowing nothing about robotics. I didn’t even know which way I had to turn the screwdriver to tighten or loosen screws. For years we went through the same challenges of learning programming and coming up with the best robot design. This program is one to inspire all young people to explore the science and technology available today. I look around I see three year olds playing on iPads or iPod touches. Technology is here, and there is only growth. With all of these new gadgets around us we have the choice to ignore it or embrace it. You have the ability to challenge yourself and join something like FIRST. You could one of the student participating in this program. These young minds are tomorrow's engineers and inventors -- just the type of people the world needs to solve its problems and make a better life for everyone.
FIRST Sport for the Mind
May 18, 2011