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Unread 08-13-2012, 01:54 PM
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Raising Curiosity

We've been hard at work on this initiative to get kids interested and excited about Science and Technology; some of us for nearly a quarter century. Tens of thousands of kids certainly have been inspired by FIRST; many of them are on their way to changing the world in which we live.

Meanwhile, these folks in Virginia and California decide to put a Mini-Cooper on Mars in the middle of the night, and millions* of kids are getting interested and excited about Science and Technology.

So ... how do we measure up? Did the work we've done in FIRST and other STEM initiatives lay the groundwork for getting the kids geeked, or did NASA just lap us in one fell swoop?**

*I don't think I'm overestimating here. At all. The only thing I can think of that supercedes this in terms of captivating the collective imagination is the events of July 20, 1969.
**Don't read that as implying that I'm bitter. I'm just as thrilled as the next guy (provided the next guy isn't wearing a Hawaiian shirt).
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Unread 08-13-2012, 03:41 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

You could look at it this way; FIRST has been able to sustain a level of inspiration for 25 years where Curiosity came and went in a matter of months with a sustained inspiration for a couple of years as it explores Mars.

Note: I'll take all the inspiration I can get, whether it comes from FIRST, or MSL. It's all good!
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Unread 08-13-2012, 03:48 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

I would rather say that NASA (and other tech companies) lay the groundwork for us.

Think about it... we land a man on the Moon, or a rover on Mars, and the country gets excited. A new iPhone comes out, and the world gets excited. For most of them, their excitement likely doesn't have anything to do with STEM. They sit back, say "cool", marvel at what we can accomplish, then get back to their daily grind.

Previously, a student might see us land the rover and think "that's so complicated, there's no way I could ever be a part of something like that", and then get back to their algebra homework, never seeing the connection between what they're learning right now and what we just accomplished.

With FIRST and other STEM related programs like it, we have a way to show those kids the path towards being the next "Mohawk Guy". It's possible for a student to learn about the rover landing, and then work along side professional engineers building a robot and programming it for autonomous mode. Watching the rover land is inspirational regardless of what else happens. Being a part of FIRST is inspirational regardless of what else happens. It's our job to follow up on what NASA accomplished and continue to keep kids interested long enough to do it professionally. Putting the two together... that's like peanut butter and jelly - it combines to be better than either could be apart.

I would pose another question - how can teams use the Curiosity landing (along with all the media attention, awe students feel, etc) to help increase their recruitment efforts? Can this awesome event help us reach even more students?
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Unread 08-13-2012, 04:26 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

I'd say there is one other major difference between the mars landing and FIRST. While the NASA project is seen by more people, and kids might be inspired, they didnt learn much of anything from it besides what it was. In FIRST, not only are they inspired, but they get to have hands on experience with engineering and technology, which I consider much more helpful
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Unread 08-13-2012, 04:43 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
Meanwhile, these folks in Virginia and California decide to put a Mini-Cooper on Mars in the middle of the night, and millions* of kids are getting interested and excited about Science and Technology.
It's far larger than a Mini Cooper... (said as a MINI driver)

But, I view our inspiration as a different type. NASA has always been about inspiring dreams. We are about showing kids the courage to reach for those dreams. Think of it like NASA is the big NBA star that inspires everyone and we are the army of local coaches that teach the teamwork and determination that make people able to play.
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Unread 08-13-2012, 05:14 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

NASA gets people interested, if only for a little while, in science and technology. Particularly kids. Think the U.S. basketball team at the Olympics.

FIRST (and other similar organizations) take that interest and give it something concrete to manifest in. Think local youth basketball leagues (and school teams, etc.) They also sift out the committed for the next level.

College gives the students, now with some practical experience in engineering, the tools to do full-on engineering like sending rovers to Mars. During this time, the students can also be passing on their inspiration. Think NBA Development League.

Once the students get out of college, they go join NASA and other companies/organizations. The cycle begins again. And it's a beneficial one. (See NBA/ U.S. basketball team at the Olympics.)

So, who's ready to go from inspiration to manifestation of inspiration?
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Unread 08-13-2012, 07:05 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

NASA inspires kids to think that scientists do cool technology stuff.

FIRST inspires kids to think that THEY can do cool technology stuff.
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Unread 08-13-2012, 08:33 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
and millions* of kids are getting interested and excited about Science and Technology.
(Emphasis mine)

Getting interested. Not yet there.

NASA got their attention. We get to refine and sustain that interest. One event - except 7/20/69 perhaps - won't do it.

One Swell Foop.
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Unread 08-13-2012, 09:25 PM
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Re: Raising Curiosity

NASA won't lead students to a career, but it can spark interest, and FIRST can take care of the rest.
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