Building Robots Builds Scientists RRS feed

  • Question

  • The For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST) program is designed to stoke middle and high school students' interest in science and technology as a career choice through exciting and challenging activities, such as the FIRST Robotics Competition. In the contest, teams of students build robots out of a common set of components to perform specific tasks, and these robots are pitted against each other in tournaments. Programs such as FIRST are seen by education and business community leaders as critical to reversing low U.S. graduation rates and a decline in students' pursuit of careers in math and science, which is essential to sustaining America's global technological leadership. FIRST initiatives stand out from other science programs with their concentration on inner-city environments and minority students. "We can take all of the kids who never thought of science and technology and say you ought to be part of the future," notes FIRST founder and inventor Dean Kamen. Through FIRST, Kamen not only hopes to show kids that science and technology can be fun and competitive, but also expose them to professional scientists and engineers who can serve as role models and mentors. Kamen has an ambitious goal for FIRST to penetrate the approximately 25,000 high schools in the United States. A 2005 Brandeis University study sponsored by the Ford Foundation found that FIRST participants are 100 percent more likely to major in science and engineering and over 300 percent more likely to pursue an engineering career.
    Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:37 AM