Page 26 - THE Journal, October/November 2018
P. 26

That kind of require- ment doesn’t worry
Rose. She’s been primed for that
since she was in fourth grade—
and, really, even earlier—because, during nearly her entire elementary, middle and high
school career, she’s been a part of the FIRST program,
FIRST is an interna- tional nonprofit founded
to inspire youth through robotics to participate in sci-
ence, technology, engineering and math.
After nine years of direct participation (and two years before that, when Rose first started watching her dad, Norton, lead
a school robotics team as a volunteer), daughter, mother and father are more con-
vinced than ever that the robotics program provides a home even—and especially—for students who have no obvious affinity for STEM. And while teachers don’t have to lift a finger, they get the benefit of student participation.
A Job for Everybody
The team Rose pulled together that first year by calling five friends was named
the “Ponytail Posse.” Three members, including Rose, stayed with it during the entire nine-year duration. Over that period, the robotics became more complicated, and so did the work undertaken by the team, evolving from making posters in the earliest years to creating business plans and pitching to sponsors for monetary support in the later years. Through those years the roles also changed. Rose had always been a team member who handled programming (first, block programming and later on, Java); but by the time she reached high school she was less interested in being part of the robot-building (which
Start small. “We’ve seen many schools
in our district try to jump in and start [a bunch of] FIRST League teams all at once,” explained Rose Lam. “Then eventually the program fizzles out because the coordinator leaves and they don’t have enough support or there isn’t enough interest in maintaining so many teams. Start small and then grow it up from there as the interest grows.”
Go for grants to cover costs. Krispen and Rose Lam worked with the LEGO Foundation and FIRST, which donated a bunch of season passes (which include the LEGO kits, engineering notebooks, team meeting guide and program administrator guide). “We had this big plan of how we were going to slowly grow the robotics

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