FIRST Classroom Integration

Just to survey community opinion: how do you all feel about integrating FIRST with classroom material?

More specifically: have high school students (such as myself) code for the school FIRST team to gain real life experience solving problems, Math teachers explaining the real life implications of calculus and geometry making example of the team, Chemistry and Physics teachers talking about materials sciences (strength, weight, structure) and other aspects of engineering (everything from torque to octane rating).

Personally I feel that it would be a great idea, but I feel that many schools, though they may overall agree with FIRST, may disagree with this kind of integration. To those who are confused: my manifesto here is to eliminate the dreaded question that students use to waste time, which is “When am I ever going to use this in real life?”

Post your ideas, comments, and suggestions.

It’s a cool idea, and I know some teams have already embraced it. I’ve seen everything from making FRC an elective all the way through 1717’s program of making it the senior capstone. I recall one of our local private schools has a fantastic team (1218), and something like 40%? of all students who elect to attend at least partially attribute their interest to the FIRST program, which runs (J?)FLL-FRC. Realistically, it’d probably be difficult to systemically bring FIRST into public school systems, but there are some success stories.

To be fair though, I’m not sure the average “When am I going to use this?” student would take “well, there are these 120lb robots that play frisbee in the gym” as an answer. :wink: We might need a bit more of a “and check out how the industry professionals that mentor them use the same skills in X,Y,Z (A,B,C,D…)”.

I don’t believe that it is in the spirit of FIRST to force engagement from students who might not want to participate in working on their school’s robotics team. On the other hand I agree that it would be great if math and science classes were able to incorporate more practical applications that could be applied to FIRST.

However if/when it is an elective course it is not ‘forcing’ engagement. Due to our participation in FIRST my school has added the Texas Robotics and Automation course and Programming that is taught under the CTE umbrella. These are both electives that allow the students to choose whether or not to enroll in the courses. Unfortunately what we see is that the classes fill up with non-FIRST students and my team members have a tough time getting in sometimes :confused:

Need two courses :wink:

I don’t think anyone’s looking to force it. At the most, it’d be great to get FIRST projects as common electives throughout the public school curricula, and facilitating teachers to answer “when am I going to use this?” with “well, I think there’s a meeting Wednesday if you’d like to check it out and meet some engineers”.

Our elective class is based around FIRST but does not require enrolled students to be on the team, although it is highly encouraged. We also encourage students to only take it once to let others have a chance. We have not gotten enough interest in it to expand to adding more advanced classes. For example a Robotics 1, Robotics 2, etc.

Because of this the students do not help build the robot during build season during class time. They may work on a small off-season project but nothing large scale as we build at a location that is not near the school.

This past semester the class was tasked with building a robot (that conformed to a majority of FRC rules) that could play hockey. I know in previous semesters they have been tasked with designing a robot that could accomplish different task.

Actually, robotics would be forced upon the students. They would not be forced to join, but once they are in they are forced to stay and devote a nontrivial amount of time to robotics.

Given this, I support a course that teaches things which pertain to robotics, but not FIRST specifically. For example, a programming class that teaches how to program physical systems rather than computer programs (please excuse my lack of proper terms, I’m not a programmer). This would be useful to students on an FRC team, but would still be completely relevant even if you decided to quit FIRST.

I think that tying a team directly to a required class, as some teams do, creates a barrier to entry that keeps out students that could otherwise be inspired. I’m all for non-mandatory classes that enhance robotics-related skills, especially if students who don’t want to join a team, or THINK they don’t want to join a team, are also included.

As a totally terrible, anecdotal, non-representative sample - I do see a “trend” in that teams linked to classes are more likely to have too many students interested for their structure to accommodate. This makes a bit of sense, considering it probably takes quite a bit of demand and support to get a course introduced in most places. Regardless, outreach to those who don’t think they’re interested is certainly critical, no matter how enrollment works.

As for being ‘forced’ once you’ve volunteered, well sure, but doesn’t that bear an odd resemblance to much of life in general? :wink:

My response to this question is to ask if the utterer is familiar with fitness gear. (see attachments) Ever see any of that stuff in real life, outside a gym? No? Then why do they exist? Fitness of body requires one sort of exercise, fitness of mind requires a much different bunch of exercise, practice, and discovery. Couple that with “Would you like us to figure out exactly what you’re going to do in real life and show you ONLY how to do that?”

Are team is linked to our robotics class and are machine shop class. Not all the students are forced to be on the team but everyone gets the chance to play around with a frc bot and build parts. Overall I think it hurts the number of students in the FRC Club. If everyone already has the chance to use a FRC bot and machine parts why would anyone want to join the club?

This is interesting. It leads me to the question - have you achieved your goals even with the smaller Club? If others are already making and using and FRC bot, are they learning and being inspired from that? (Understanding that those who want more could certainly join the club.) As first glance, it sounds like good exposure and an intriguing in-between level for those that don’t want the full rigor of and FRC build, but if it’s hurting outcomes overall that’s certainly not a good thing.

While we have an amazing robotics curricular programs (CAD courses, CNC Machining, Programming, Robotics and Engineering), honestly I think are team has been a failure in the last few years. While we have excessive amount of machining resources and funding because we are a robotics school we lack the support for the robotics team from our school to do things like work on weekends. Because we already have a robotics and engineering program are school only keeps us around to promote are robotics classes. All of this has created this weird dynamic as I think are team lacks the passion that other teams have because we are spoiled by to not needing to find sponsors and learn new skills like machining and programming. I also think some students find that once they are marked on something in school it is no longer fun.

Bill_B has a very good point to be made, that being said, I feel that one of the most useful and motivating things in school has been seeing abstract concepts being used in real-life scenarios. While infinitesimally moving through High School, students lose focus of why they are learning because they do not see what the objective of their advanced knowledge is. The genius of FIRST for me is that students become more motivated to work harder in school because they see a light at the end of a dark tunnel. In an ideal world, FIRST would be visible to all students as an opportunity to take advantage of, but it is not. At my school, even though there is a team, very few people are familiar with it because they don’t see a distinction between “nerd club” and FIRST and they pass it off as an unfulfilling activity v. Football, Basketball, Baseball, or Hockey. Injecting FIRST into regular class curriculum or electives is beneficial to students motivationally and beneficial to FIRST for exposure. The FIRST (see what I did there) hill that people need to get over in order for Science and Technology to be understood better, is for school administrators and politicians to appreciate what they mean and practical application. Getting these people to a point where they understand and appreciate that is having them be a part of the FIRST community.

I think too much integration is a bad thing. Not all kids at every high school in the world want to be on a robotics team, they just are not passionate about it. And without a passion, FIRST is just a boring and time consuming.
Too much exposure to FIRST will not make kids want to join FIRST, actually it will do the opposite.
That being said, I do think there is room for some integration. For example, physics classes can do an experiment or two show real life scenarios. But, I still think a best way to integrate FIRST into classrooms is simply to add a robotics/engineering class. Where kids join because they have a slight interest in the field, and then they can use their science, math, and engineering skills to do things :slight_smile: