Page 27 - THE Journal, October/November 2018
P. 27

involves working with metal, including welding) and drawn more to the marketing and social media work required by the team. That’s how she got into graphic design, she pointed out.
“When people think of robotics teams in FIRST,” Rose said, what they imagine
is “nerds programming robots in the base- ment, doing all that high tech, ‘science-y’ and math stuff.” But really, she empha- sized, “Being on a robotics team, there’s a place for everybody. It’s like a small busi- ness. You need different types of people with different talents to come together
and make the whole thing work. There are people on robotics teams who do nothing but marketing and do nothing like public speaking and promoting to their sponsors. That has nothing to do with robots, but it’s still an equally important part of the team. That’s where I fit in. We have a couple
of team members who are like that. They don’t really do anything with the robots. They never touch the robots. But our contributions to the team are still equally
important as all of those engineers and programmers.”
How FIRST Works
Mom Krispen is a library paraprofessional at Rose’s former district, Mounds View Public Schools, in Shoreview. Not long
ago she introduced her kindergarten center
to FIRST, and now every kindergartner
in the district has
the opportunity to
do robotics. At her
school there are 10
teams, each with six
students. But altogether
in her district, there are
70 teams for the youngest students, up from a total
of zero two years ago. “We started in one school, very slowly grew that, and the other
programs in our district,” recalled Rose. “But thanks to that grant, we were able to immediately implement it.”
Call on companies. “It’s amazing,” said Krispen. “We have companies here in Shoreview where we live, and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll buy you a robot kit,’ because their future people are the ones who are right now in elementary school. They want to make sure these kids have the skills necessary to be able to come back and work with them
as employees. That’s why they’re willing to invest.”
Pull in parents. “It’s the volunteers that really make it run,” noted Krispen. “That always seems to be the weak spot. You
really need to find someone who’s willing
to coordinate it and be able to run it.”
She advised hitting up the parent-teacher association at the school, because many of them thrive on supporting projects like this— with both money and people.
Enlist district support. When teams are coordinated by a district employee, schools don’t have to rely on a parent who could “graduate out of the program” and then
have it collapse, explained Krispen. “I keep telling everybody, until I’m fired or retired, I’m going to be doing this.” That may require the principal paying a stipend to a person willing to take on the “coordinator of coordinators” effort, but the advantage is a “very stable basis” of support.

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