Last week I was contacted by ‘FIRST Global‘, an organization launching an Olympic-styled robotics event in Washington, DC, in July 2017. They were keen to see students from Sri Lanka represent their country.
I have been talking to organizations in Sri Lanka about this, and wanted to summarize details of the endeavor.
FIRST Global is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur, Dean Kamen, whose organization holds several robotics competitions for schools across the country. My school participates in it, and I have been the robotics coach since 2012. But this event is different, and stretches its global footprint to reach out to every country on earth, and empower students in engineering and science.
The Goal: To ignite a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among the more than two billion youths across the world.
Dates: 14 – 18 July, 2017
The Requirement: High-school students (ages 15 – 18) who would build and program a robot from a provided kit (hardware and software)
Team: Could comprise 3 students, plus a coach
What I like most about this event is that it fosters a new international movement among future STEM leaders who will use the ‘competition’ as a springboard for global collaboration not just in robotics but in the emerging fields within science and technology.
The Robot Challenge: The focus this year is on Water. More specifically access to clean water.
For this, the robot table at the competition will be set up with challenges solving the global water crisis.
This could be similar to how the ‘missions’ are set up on the board for the other FLL competitions (2016 wasAnimal Allies, in 2015 it was Trash Trek etc) in which the robot to accomplish as many missions as possible within two and a half minutes.
For students who might want to contact me, here is one of the videos that explain the hardware that will be available to design their own bot. If you need more information, please contact me at publicradius at gmail.
If you’ve never watched “The Story of Stuff” now may be a good time. It’s about the ‘materials economy.’ I have used this as a great way to communicate, using simple language, and a great ‘story’ format. Including, great stick figures!
This year the ‘Story of Stuff’ will be a must-see piece for all robotics teams around the world. Annie Leonard stumbled on this and researched this about a decade ago, and it is still relevant. If you have 21 minutes to spare, watch this!
If I could invite Ms. Leonard to speak to my robotics students, I wonder what she would tell them about following the ‘trek’ of ‘stuff that becomes trash.
We just kicked off our new Robotics season in my school –my 5th year as coach!
With 26 students signing up, that’s more than twice the number of applications from last year. It’s a ‘good problem’ to have, to see kids become so excited about doing the hard stuff – the building, programming, doing the requisite research, and finally running those complicated missions.
On first glance, this year’s theme, Trash Trek,‘ is much less abstract than last year’s ‘World Class’ (around global education). Lots of big ideas to get our minds around the three R’s that could become a cliche unless we re-interpret RE-ducing, RE-using and RE-cycling . For instance, how about RE-imagining:
How far does the trash that gets into our bins has to travel? Could we calculate this (the ‘M’ in STEM) and display it somewhere? Perhaps in our communities — as some sort of a dashboard? If so, who would build the app? What would that display look like?
Who decides on the packaging that gets into the products we buy? How much cost will it save if we RE-fuse to ‘pay’ for this (with our landfills?)