Photo of Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, robot, and Will.i.am, FIRST enthusiast, via ABC
If you are an American middle or high school student YOU can build a real robot by joining your high school’s FIRST robotics team. If your school doesn’t have one, you need to pester the science and technology teachers to start one. Send them to www.usfirst.org.
FIRST, also i.am.FIRST, is a national annual robot build and design competition for high school students. Students start with a robot kit with no instruction manual and a task their robot needs to perform. With the help of a team mentor, the teams use their combined skills to rise to the challenge of assembling and programming their robot. Through innovation, cooperation, and problem solving the kids work to make the best performing robot they can. The teams compete on a local level and then winners move up to nationals for the super robot smackdown and killer party as seen in the following video about i.am.FIRST and the 2011 finalists.
You and your team will gain experience in engineering, design, electronics, programming, problem solving, communication, team building and fashion.
Well, maybe not fashion.
In the video, I heard one of the team mentors say that the kids needed to use their language skills to apply for grants (donations of money) as well. I can’t think of a better way to acquire and use such a wide variety of valuable life skills while having a blast with friends.
Kids in the FIRST program have an awesome cheerleader, the super talented Will.i.am, of the pop group Black Eyed Peas. Will.i.am is a passionate promoter of science and technology education. He paid for and produced the i.am.FIRST program televised on ABC in the United States. He understands that the valuable the hands-on science and technical experience gained from building a robot can give kids a leg up on a better future. He rocks and rules.