INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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FIRST mentors change students’ lives

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D. Scott Heister

Mentor, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 66 “Grizzly Robotics”; Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College Director, Michigan

We used our FIRST robotics team as a model to design our new school because we realized that when our FIRST kids came to us to work on the robot, they were actually engaged. They worked harder in FIRST robotics than they did in school and they actually cared about what they were doing. –Scott Heister, Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College Director

When we incorporated the FIRST values and principles into our new school, we transformed what had been a failing school into a unique vibrant educational opportunity for our students.

The FIRST experience — the hands on, experiential learning in close partnership with mentors — drove learning the basics of engineering and the fundamentals of science and mathematics, engineering, technology and manufacturing – and turned the traditional style of education on its head.

Today, our kids don’t just sit in a classroom doing busy work, but rather, they are connected to a friendly learning environment that encourages them to work with others and to build; and design as engaged members of a team.

By adopting the FIRST principles of guided, hands-on learning, our teachers act more like mentors – always willing to help if a student doesn’t understand. Formerly disenfranchised students are now inspired by those mentors.

The metrics of the impact adapting a FIRST system has had on our school are impressive. Our suspension rate has decreased from over 35% to less than 3% and our graduation rate has increased from 69% to 97%.

Our mentors and teachers use robots. That is our hook. That is how we get our students to be engaged. For all FIRST mentors, if you ever doubted the impact you have, I’d like you to meet some of our Grizzly Robotics kids. 

Meet Grizzly Robotics students and alumni in the video below.

To learn more about how Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College, a dual-enrollment high school, was created on FIRST principles, download the FIRST case study, “A New Type of School Teaches Skills for the Future.”


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