Reaching Students with Special Needs Using Kinesthetic STEM Programs

May 23, 2018 By FIRST Staff


When the STEM director for New York City’s special education district sought kinesthetic programs to reach students with special needs, she partnered with FIRST NYC to pilot FIRST LEGO League Jr. The program has proven to be a tremendous success, including an annual expo at the NY Hall of Science.

INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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FIRST helped me discover my love of engineering

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Anthony Hennig

FIRST Alum, Volunteer, & Mentor

FIRST Alum Anthony Hennig discovered his love for engineering after becoming a programmer for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 422 “Mech Tech Dragons,” in Richmond, Virginia. He later became double valedictorian for both engineering and liberal arts colleges at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a graduate research assistant in systems engineering at George Washington University. He stays connected with the FIRST community as a volunteer and mentor.

What did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum?
After graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as a double valedictorian for both engineering and liberal arts colleges, I went straight to George Washington University (GWU). Currently, I'm working in Washington, D.C., at GWU as a graduate research assistant in systems engineering, trying to understand some of the specifics and theories behind how we break up, or decompose, large and complex engineering systems and how that interacts with solvers and designers.

What are your future plans?
I want to work on technology development and be a project manager for a project that I can see evolve from beginning to end.

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?
During my sophomore year of high school on FIRST Robotics Competition Team 422, I became a programmer (I was also mechanical lead later in high school) – that’s when I realized how much I loved engineering. The hands-on aspect and the designing of the robots gave me an introduction to engineering and has opened up so many doors for me to learn more.

You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an Alum; what have you been up to?
I was out of the loop for the first few years I was at RIT, but then I came back to FIRST by volunteering with FIRST LEGO League during a co-op in Cincinnati. In doing so, I realized how much I missed working with FIRST teams. Since then, I have done some robot inspecting (lead robot inspector at the Finger Lakes Regional), I have been a judge in southern Ohio, and I have also been mentoring Team 2900, which is down the street from where I am studying.

You shared that you’ve made and kept great FIRST friends/established a great network within the FIRST community – any advice to current participants on how to do that?
Stay connected with your community! If you move away from your hometown team, find a local team that would like a mentor or even start a new team. I love watching the students get excited about challenges and make new memories on the team, all while learning about robots.

Visit firstinspires.org/alumni for more FIRST Alumni spotlights. Share your story for a chance to be featured.


INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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FIRST inspired my high school to invest in young engineers

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Jeremy Shikarides

FIRST Alum, Volunteer, & Mentor

FIRST Alum Jeremy Shikarides joined his high school’s rookie FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 5943 “Bad News Gears,” from Caramel, New York, and was inspired to major in aerospace and mechanical engineering. After noticing how many of the school’s FIRST students were applying to MIT and other high-profile engineering schools, Jeremy’s high school began investing in the team.

What did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum?
After high school, I began attending SUNY at Buffalo (UB) and am majoring in aerospace and mechanical engineering. I had also applied to MIT and didn’t get accepted, but because there were so many team members applying to schools like MIT and other high-profile engineering schools our high school took notice and started investing in the team!

What are your future plans?
My goal is to be able to work on manned Mars missions.

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?
FIRST was the biggest influence on my career. In my freshman/sophomore years of high school I was on the varsity wrestling team. My sophomore year I was injured and had to leave the team. I have always been a “tinkerer” and in my junior year I noticed that my school was in its rookie year of having a robotics team, so I decided to join! The first year was very busy and hectic but I learned a lot of lessons. In my senior year I became a team captain, and by then the team felt like a family. I have learned how to overcome problems and I learned to live by one of my favorite quotes, to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Teddy Roosevelt.

You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an alum; what have you been up to?
I am a mentor for my home FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 5943, and for Team 7016. Additionally, I have been working towards the possible creation of a SUNY scholarship for FIRST Alumni and was assistant game announcer at the 2017 NYC regional and one of two emcees at the 2018 Hudson Valley regional.

You shared that you’ve made and kept great FIRST friends/established a great network within the FIRST community – any advice to current participants on how to do that?
Don’t be afraid to talk about robotics, and don’t be afraid to reach out! So many people I talk to on a daily basis, from classmates to paraprofessionals, were involved in FIRST, and I would have never known had I not talked about robotics. As I’ve practiced and performed as game announcer and emcee, I’ve been able to stay connected with all the other wonderful volunteers, through Facebook in addition to FIRST Alumni groups on Facebook.

Visit firstinspires.org/alumni for more FIRST Alumni spotlights.


To Build Next-Gen STEM Leaders, Universities and Industry Must Collaborate

Apr 24, 2018 By Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST


Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST, highlights takeaways for university leaders from his recent SXSW EDU panel on non-profit and corporation partnerships, with help from Erica Fessia, Qualcomm’s director of community engagement, and Jay Flores, Rockwell Automation’s global STEM ambassador.

INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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FIRST nurtured my interest in international relations

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Elisa Moore

FIRST Alum & Mentor

FIRST Alum Elisa Moore honed her leadership and humanities skills on FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4828 “RoboEagles,” from Raleigh, North Carolina, helping her team win the Gold Prize in the FedEx Innovation Challenge at the 2016 FIRST Championship. Elisa is now working toward a career in international relations. She says FIRST helped her nurture her interest in international relations and taught her the value of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition: “In my opinion, both of these qualities are foundational pieces of diplomacy and successful relations with other people and nations.”

What did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum?
When I began university, I had intended to double major in biomedical engineering and French, but I was sold on global studies from the time I took my first global issues classes. This semester, I am interning in DC at the Brookings Institution, working for the former Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and am on track to graduate a year early from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am majoring in global studies and French with a minor in Slavic and East European languages and culture (concentration in Polish). Currently, I am in deciding between going into the international relations industry right after graduation or going straight to graduate school.

What are your future plans?
My dream is to work in transatlantic relations, focusing on France or Poland, and I want to get involved with diplomacy and research either through the U.S. Foreign Service or through an internationally focused think tank.

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?
In addition to my leadership role on Team 4828 in regard to presentations and team relations, my team won the Gold Prize in the FedEx Innovation Challenge (at the 2016 FIRST Championship) and that really inspired me to run with my people skills. A feature of our FedEx submission was a “commercial” that showcased the international element of FIRST and the fact that teams come from all over the world, something that nurtured my interest in international relations and allowed me to express this interest creatively. Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism have molded me into the person I am today, as in my opinion, both of these qualities are foundational pieces of diplomacy and successful relations with other people and nations.

You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an Alum; what have you been up to?
Last season on the weekends I mentored the team I used to compete with, which was so cool to see all the new kids who are just as passionate as I was at that age. Since I am in Washington, D.C., now and not in North Carolina, me and a few other alums have been in constant communication with the current team members to work on presentations with the judges and for them to practice their Chairman’s Award interview.

You shared that you’ve established a great network within the FIRST community – any advice to current participants on how to do that?
There is nothing like the family that you have within your own team. Keep in touch with everyone on your team. As we all get older, everyone will be meeting interesting people and creating connections that we can use to find new opportunities. Also, your team mentors are amazing resources (as we all know), and you should always stay in touch with them no matter how long it has been. I am lucky as my dad was one of my head mentors, but I always go back to visit and maintain my relationship with the other mentors who shaped my FIRST experience.

I wish I had made a bigger effort back when I was competing in FIRST Robotics Competition to network more with the judges and the other mentors of teams in my region, as they are all also industry leaders who are well-connected. I would advise current participants to take advantage of the moments they have to interact with them and form relationships that will allow you to meet more people and learn about unique opportunities.

Visit firstinspires.org/alumni for more FIRST Alumni spotlights. Share your story for a chance to be featured.


The Whole Child Curriculum Hidden in STEM Project-Based Learning

Apr 05, 2018 By Jonathan Carpenter, M.A.Ed, M.Ed. Admin, Fourth-Grade Teacher


STEM-oriented project-based learning can have a remarkable impact on developing a student’s skills and confidence – not just in STEM, but also in reading, writing, researching, and social-emotional learning. Fourth-grade teacher Jonathan Carpenter shares how FIRST LEGO League Jr. helped his students grow.

These STEM Enthusiasts Will Give You a Front Row Seat to Inspiration

Apr 02, 2018 By FIRST Staff


Meet three STEM enthusiasts who will provide a front row seat to all the action happening at the 2018 FIRST Championship Presented by Qualcomm Incorporated. Twitch personalities DeeJayKnight and Skylias and FIRST Alum Emma Dumont share what excites them about STEM, community, and FIRST Championship.

INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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FIRST creates friendships and connections

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Cameron Schriner

FIRST Alum, Volunteer, and Mentor

FIRST Alum Cameron Schriner found lifelong friendships and a passion for helping kids succeed while part of his FIRST Robotics Competition Team 832 Chimera (O.S.C.A.R) in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently head referee for FIRST LEGO League in Georgia. “The kids I work with are teaching me as much as I am teaching them,” he says.

What did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum?
I attended Georgia Tech at the Savannah Campus and majored in mechanical engineering. I got connected with a summer camp working for Georgia Teach CEISMC (Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing). Through this initial camp, I then created more camps around the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT. I was training kids for competition, teaching programming, and mentoring teams.

What are your future plans?
As a referee, I have heard so many stories from teams that want to build these awesome robots, but they tell me they can’t because they don’t have enough funding. In the future, I would like to assist teams with ways they can get the funding in order to build these robots, or to find a way to build robots on a budget!

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?
I met my best friend while he was my high school team mentor; he actually just got married, and I was in his wedding. Aside from meeting some great people, I have learned how to work with others on a team. Before I was involved with FIRST, I was very quiet and reserved and my team helped me break out and feel comfortable with participating on a team.

You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an alum; what have you been up to?
Through the many connections I have made with others associated with FIRST, I became a FIRST LEGO League referee for Georgia and now am the head referee for the state. I have stayed involved with FIRST LEGO League since college. I like FIRST, but I love FIRST LEGO League! The kids I work with are teaching me as much as I am teaching them.

Do you have any advice to current participants on how to establish a great network within the FIRST community?
My advice to participants is that any team can always use some extra help. My first year with my FIRST Robotics Competition team at Peachtree Regional, I was sitting in the pit alone, and Woodie Flowers walked over to me and asked me why I was sitting there alone. I told him I didn’t know enough to help. Woodie then spent 30 minutes with me explaining to me that I don’t have to “know” how to help. From there on, I would go around the pits at every event and offer help wherever I could because I wanted to help others win.

Visit firstinspires.org/alumni for more FIRST Alumni spotlights. Share your story for a chance to be featured.


Meeting in the Middle with Distance Learning

Mar 26, 2018 By Frank McCallum, Principal, Alberta Distance Learning Centre


A unique partnership in Alberta, Canada, provided distance learning opportunities grounded in STEM to remote First Nations communities. Frank McCallum, principal of the Alberta Distance Learning Centre, shares how distance learning bridges a barrier to STEM access.

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