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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 11-09-2002, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by M. Krass


Why aren't the kids who sit alongside the sidelines and observe as valued? Why are they looked upon as leeches, in it for a trip? What definition do we use to determine their worth to the team, or the program? Do we deem the program a failure in their case? Maybe those students inspire the gearheads to look beyond science and engineering - to art, or history, or economics. Is that counterproductive? Has FIRST failed if a student learns so much about themselves that they realize engineering *isn't* their path? ....like I have.
In our family's case...
Our family rule is 2 extracurriculars. My stepson reluctantly at our insistence signed up for BeachNet (our high school's student run community ISP) and Robotics.

He did nothing at robotics except show up.

The VP made a very unpopular decision to pay for ss's trip to Nationals - the year they won the championship. One of the very rare times we've seen enthusiasm in ss.

Next year husband joins as computer guru mentor, to help his son stay in the program. Husband ends up working on the robot and LOVING it. My 17yo daughter joined also to help her less than gregarious stepbrother stay in the program. To everyone's surprise, she ends up working on the robot at the machine shop, co-drives at all the competitions, and president of robotics for the next season.

Season 2003 we go to year round program. I join in spring 2002. My 14yo goes to welding jr college class with her stepdad, and kicks his butt. Now my girls, my husband and I are thoroughly involved in robotics and my ss dropped out.

I've always felt grateful to the VP for making that unpopular decision. He couldn't have seen, and we didn't know, that decision would draw our family into the program.

I think about my ss when I get so frustrated with the few team members we've got who show up for the free food (food sponsors or me), for the promise of trips, and who try and often succeed to do nothing while there.

Some of those members truly have talents that can be put to use - either robotically or artistically. They just don't have "ownership" of the team or motivation yet to participate.

They haven't yet experienced a kick-off, the six weeks, or a competition.

I'll keep plugging. Who knows what will come of it.
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Unread 11-11-2002, 12:00 PM
Jessica Boucher Jessica Boucher is offline
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It's simple: the competition is a breeding ground for engineers. You join, you go to an engineering school, you get a job in the engineering/technical field, you convince that company to sponsor, which recruits students to join. A beautiful virtuous cycle, until you step oustide it.

I hate to be harsh, but because of its inclusiveness, in its current form it is unable to handle any profession beyond its core. You don't truly see it until you've lived outside it.

Still watching,
Jessica B
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Unread 11-11-2002, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
you convince that company to sponsor, which recruits students to join.
Hmmmm..... my team doesn't have any sponsors that hired teamates from our team.
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Unread 11-11-2002, 12:14 PM
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Ours either.
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Unread 11-11-2002, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jessica Boucher
It's simple: the competition is a breeding ground for engineers. You join, you go to an engineering school, you get a job in the engineering/technical field, you convince that company to sponsor, which recruits students to join. A beautiful virtuous cycle, until you step oustide it.

I hate to be harsh, but because of its inclusiveness, in its current form it is unable to handle any profession beyond its core. You don't truly see it until you've lived outside it.

Still watching,
Jessica B
The cycle does not always come full circle.
Some students join, learn about engineering/whatever, then move on to bigger and better things. While it's true the competition is designed to mimic the "real" engineering world, it has other benefits as well. I feel it inspires students to LEARN, not necesarily learn about engineering.

Frankly, I've been gung-ho about engineering since I got involved in the competition. These days, I find myself thinking long and hard about working in the realm of education. This competition can also be a breeding ground for TEACHERS.

As for living outside the cycle. Well... hopefully I won't have to anytime soon, but one never can tell when the "burn-out" occurs.

It's nice to know your still watching Jess. It really is.
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Unread 11-11-2002, 02:56 PM
Jessica Boucher Jessica Boucher is offline
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Well, it's Ken's birthday...I'm making an exception from my imposed hiatus.

What I'm trying to say is that the purpose of the competition is still very self-sufficient. They equate in the timeline of commerce to a farmer who grows just enough food for his own family, and has not yet achieved the point of realizing trade is possible.

The cycle does not always come full-circle. I am living proof. Though I thought it was ready, it has not come to the point where it is able to relate and support other professions as well as it does the technical fields. But because of the amount of energy and emotion that is necessary to be thouroughly involved, if a deviating choice is made by the student, the student is flung off the ride and comes smashing to the ground, dazed and confused since the support system that has been there for up to 4 high school years is just not capable of supporting them just yet. Though, we will not know when it is ready until someone tries and succeeds. So, unfortunately, it will keep happening.

There is nothing wrong with being self-sufficient, for I feel that the purpose of breeding engineers is a good one. It's just necessary for those who have not yet chosen.... be cautious when the time comes to make the choice whether to deviate or not.

-Jessica B
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Unread 11-12-2002, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by SlamminSammy
This thread is teeming with replies dealing with material possessions and this troubles me greatly.
theres a quote in my doctors office that makes somewhat of a point about that.

"In 100 years it wont matter whether i drove a fancy car, lived in a big house, or had a lot of money. In 100 years what will matter is that i have made the difference in the life of a child."

Dean Kamen, even though he is uber rich, he probally started FIRST with something like this in his mind. Who's gonna give a rats behind whether i had fancy stuff, just as long as ive changed some kids life then ive done a good job.

-ian
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Unread 11-12-2002, 04:24 PM
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Success to me is a feeling that is associated with achieving something you truly worked hard for; something that you can look at and say "That's my best work."
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Unread 11-16-2002, 03:52 PM
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Talking My definition of FIRST Success...

(The following events all happen today at our Sat. FIRST workshop)

Definition of FIRST Success:

1. Success is having a minority female senior student from a ghetto HS tells me that FIRST was the best thing that ever happen to her and she is planning to go to college and pursuit a technical career in multimedia.

2. Success is a student tells me that FIRST is more fun than play B-ball with his friends and technology is "cool."

3. Success is recruiting and inspiring a nontechnical female freshman student to join her school's FIRST. And she wants to do everything.

4. Success is having a FIRST student drag his parents into our workshop because he is so proud and happy to be a member of FIRST.

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Unread 11-16-2002, 05:21 PM
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Our teams main goal has always been to make sure the students learn something. Because in our view that's what FIRST really is, a learning exeperience above all else. No one on our team has been really thrilled by the trip to Disney (we're too busy at the competition to see any of the park except at meals).
Our team functions with engineers mentoring students, and that's the valuable part. Even if they don't go into an engineering field or anything technical, the hope is that they come away from the program after learning from it. As much as FIRST tries to encourage people to go into these kinds of fields, it isn't a recruitment tool. It's a school program, and schools are there so that we can learn.
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Unread 11-16-2002, 06:10 PM
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Re: My definition of FIRST Success...

Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Wong

1. Success is having a minority female senior student from a ghetto HS tells me that FIRST was the best thing that ever happen to her and she is planning to go to college and pursuit a technical career in multimedia.
2. Success is a student tells me that FIRST is more fun than play B-ball with his friends and technology is "cool."
3. Success is recruiting and inspiring a nontechnical female freshman student to join her school's FIRST. And she wants to do everything.
4. Success is having a FIRST student drag his parents into our workshop because he is so proud and happy to be a member of FIRST.
Awesome!!!
When my 17yo daughter joined her stepbrother's robotics team we had no idea how much she'd thrive. She worked on the robot at the machine shop, co-drove at all the competitions, and is president of robotics this year. It's the only extracurricular that "took".
Now my 14yo took a summer jr college welding class before her freshman year with her stepdad, and kicked his butt. She wants to do everything also.
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Unread 11-16-2002, 10:45 PM
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Amanda Morrison Amanda Morrison is offline
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Funny that I found this, as we had a long discussion about the aspects and spirit of FIRST today.

Dean Kamen started FIRST to inspire kids to go out and have fun inventing, creating, and persevere in the areas of math, science, and technology. What I am sure he only dreamed of was the growth of this great program, and the effect it could have on kids that don't even want to study in any of those areas.

I, myself, am a photojournalism major. Many people ask me why I am involved in a science and technology program when I can't do any of the technical work. There is indeed a lot to a FIRST team, as I am discovering by being a mentor/advisor- fundraising, marketing, planning, designing... I could keep going on and on. There are several ways to be on a FIRST team besides the actual building of a robot, everyone knows this. FIRST has spread to parents, teachers, and engineers nationwide, and as everyone knows, once you catch the FIRST bug, you're affected for life. There is no failure of FIRST if you don't inspire someone to be a better engineer, scientist, or mathematician. FIRST's spirit and inspiration is a gift, but it is not a gift that has limitations. If you inspire someone, it doesn't matter quite what they are inspired about, they're going to give it their all.

There is much pride to saying that one is on a FIRST team. Regardless as to what trophies are on the shelf or how many medals around your neck, every team should have an immense feeling of pride. Every child or involved has a story to tell about FIRST, how it changed their lives, and how it touched them. I honestly don't know how you can be involved in FIRST and never really get into it. It does happen, though. Events like the national championship should not matter when it comes to place, when it comes down to it. The nationals are where teams compete, true, but regardless if they have the nationals at Epcot or not, the true spirit of FIRST will be present. Kids who join just to go to Florida should not be kicked out of the team, in my opinion. As a mentor, if I encountered a child whose involvement was not geared toward FIRST and was instead based around a trip to Florida, I would work extra hard to inspire that person with FIRST. Extracurriculars are just after school activities. FIRST is a feeling, an inspiration, and a guideline for life. If half of these kids are as fired up about their engineering jobs in the future as they are for FIRST now, it would be worth all the effort, time, and money.

There are a lot of things which are done that people might not think are within the spirit of FIRST, but of the greatest, I think not allowing a child to enter a team is the worst that can be done. I realize that all teams have monetary restrictions, and I realize that some teams would have over a hundred members if they didn't restrict their membership. To me, this is just a cry for another team. Within our conversation about FIRST spirit today and after watching Dean's interview on 60 Minutes, I think one of the biggest injustices is refusing to inspire a child. I'm not just applying this to FIRST Robotics teams, I'm also talking about LEGO leagues, etc. There are schools that have two teams within them. It can happen. Honestly, I feel that if we have to deny a student the right to inspiration, that would truly be the failure of the team. If we can't afford to take that person on, I know that maybe I should try a little harder funding-wise to make sure that everyone can be a part...and if it becomes too much, maybe we should split into two teams. After coming from a successful team to having to start from literally nothing, I have a newfound determination to spread FIRST spirit everywhere.

I learned early on from two great mentors that FIRST really is all about the kids. True, winning is fun, but "winning takes place when students are inspired." I understand that not every team is capable of everything that I have written, and that every team is run differently. But I do know that if every mentor can touch one person and inspire them like that, we'll have a great future ahead of us.

Thanks.
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Last edited by Amanda Morrison : 11-16-2002 at 11:39 PM.
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Unread 11-16-2002, 10:51 PM
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I've already started helping the FIRST team in ways not even pertaining to the actuall building. Some kids on our team still don't know the huge amount of things that take make up FIRST other than building and competing a robot. PR and other things can make or break a robot. Poor advertising can ruin a team. Bad messages ('They don't listen to their alliance partners') can destroy any chances of inclusion of alliance pickings.

The pen's mighter than the soward.
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Unread 11-16-2002, 10:59 PM
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Non-Enginerd

Quote:
Originally posted by amandabean

I, myself, am a photojournalism major. Many people ask me why I am involved in a science and technology program when I can't do any of the technical work. There is indeed a lot to a FIRST team, as I am discovering by being a mentor/advisor- fundraising, marketing, planning, designing... I could keep going on and on. There are several ways to be on a FIRST team besides the actual building of a robot, everyone knows this. FIRST has spread to parents, teachers, and engineers nationwide, and as everyone knows, once you catch the FIRST bug, you're affected for life.
Amanda,
Have you considered documenting your experiences on a FIRST team as a photojournalism major? There are some who feel that FIRST has problems handling non-engineers, and you are certainly an example that defies that stereotype. Especially with your past team's success and your new role pulling together a new team. It might be something worth writing.

Just a thought...

PS - good luck with your team, if you want to know anything about how we organize things on the college FIRST level up here at Clarkson, just drop me an IM or email.
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Unread 11-16-2002, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JVN
These days, I find myself thinking long and hard about working in the realm of education. This competition can also be a breeding ground for TEACHERS.
Amen, brother. Last year I competed on a rookie team at a neighboring school as a freshman (I was also the only underclassman on the team College Mentor: You"re a senior, right? Me: Uh...no...I"m a freshman...) This year I"m starting a team at my own school where the only teacher interested in sponsoring the team is an AP BIo teacher. Under her guidance, I"ve become a teacher of a class that meets once weekly. All I know is what I experienced through FIRST last year, but it"s still enough to get cynical students to stare slack-jawed at me while I explain building a robot.
I used to be one of those slackers whose grades were held up by test scores but dragged down by homework grades. This year I still don"t do HW, but that"s only because I spend so much of my time organizing classes, meetings with sponsors, and grant applications. I"ve spent the last two months getting students who have potential that they waste hacking into computers and NETSENDing the entire school messages like "i wiLl eAt alL yOuR cHilDRen" interested into building a robot. I showed them a kit I had ordered that consited of two wheels, a PC board, and two servos, and they couldn"t get their hands off of it for 10 minutes.
Success for me is getting these students to work towards success, instead of it to be handed to them. I"ve only had a taste of this, but I"m already addicted to the feeling of affecting someone"s life (who knows? they may someday be MY boss.) Any teachers here probably know what I"m talking about.

Last edited by pauluffel : 11-16-2002 at 11:23 PM.
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