Robotics for at-Risk Students
I just had the amazing opportunity to help introduce FIRST Lego League and FIRST Tech Challenge to the Circle of Life Academy on the White Earth Indian Reservation. It was a fantastic experience filled with many awesome students as well as very dedicated and passionate educators. As I went through the day working with each class of students (and by class I mean entire grade level which is only around 20 students), it became evident that many of those students had never been exposed to something in school that had kept them engaged and focused. The reactions that I got from the teachers were basically "wow I can't believe how into it they were!"
From the conversations I had, it seemed that in many cases if the students weren't at school, there was likely a lot of negative things that they would be doing. I just wanted to say to the educators that work in impoverished regions, thank you so much for the work that you do. Your work is changing the lives of students in such an amazing way. Experiencing, first hand, the impact that an educator has on students that are in difficult situations was very inspiring.
I found that robotics helped to bridge the gap between otherwise disengaged students and school. Students that otherwise might be questioning if it's worth continuing their education in school were asking questions about the robots, and seemed excited to be a part of a team.
For me, seeing the impact that FIRST Robotics can have on at-risk students and their surrounding community was so powerful. The experience that I had at Circle of Life Academy was so inspiring and really helped to reinforce why I put so much time into FIRST Robotics. For those of you who work with these students in school every day, again, thank you so much for the work that you do. You're an inspiration to me and to the students you teach.