Page 29 - THE Journal, October/November 2018
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come back in later years. Lots of kids stay in it for the social aspects, and that’s fine too. There is a place for absolutely everyone in the program, no matter what your skill level, no matter what your interest is.”
“Everything has
Melded Together”
Some observers might suggest that Rose Lam is an anomaly. After all, her mother works in school libraries (frequently, a hotbed of tech innovation) and her father is a manager for teams that do mobile development. Surely, other art and design students or those interested in English, social studies, cooking, business or other non-STEM subjects wouldn’t have that ingrained propensity to be drawn to robotics. You’d never convince the Lam family of that.
“Maybe in the past we were able to say that the person who works in the field of science, that’s what they do; the people who do the art or entrepreneurship, that’s what they do. And you could see them
as separate. These days everything has melded together. The defining lines are
a lot blurrier,” said Krispen. “People are being asked to do more and more in their careers, and they need to have skills all over the place in many different fields. Those are the people who are really go- ing to succeed and be able to innovate.”
“The biggest thing that links STEM with all the arts is innovation,” added Rose. “In both, you have the value of innovation
and new ideas and the willingness to explore and persevere. My friends may
be building robots to learn the idea of perseverance, but I might be designing
a banner. And being comfortable with communicating with people who have different skills sets and different experi- ences than you, that’s very valuable—and something I definitely learned from being on a robotics team. I think these are skills that everyone should have.”
Dian Schaffhauser is senior contributing editor for THE Journal and Campus Technology magazines.
Last year nonprofit FIRST reached 530,000 students in 95 countries, who worked on 61,000 teams to produce 44,900 robots. The structure of FIRST has four levels, broken out by grades.
FIRST Lego League Jr., for grades K-4, ages 6-10. Teams are given a challenge based on a real-world theme (this year’s is “Mission Moon”), that requires them to build models and create a “show me” poster depicting their research journey. Teams are encouraged to gather together to share their projects and experiences with family and friends or at a locally organized expo.
FIRST LEGO League, for grades 4-8, ages 9-16. Annual challenges get students into authentic scientific research (this year’s it’s “Into Orbit”) and hands-on robotics design using LEGO Mindstorms kits. After a minimum of eight weeks, the season ends with a high-energy, sports-like tournament. The idea is to show kids how science and technology contribute to solving real-world issues.
FIRST Tech Challenge, for grades 7-12, ages 12-18. Teams design, build, program and operate robots (about the size
of a microwave, according to FIRST) to play a floor game
in a multi-team “alliance” format. This year’s theme: “Rover Ruckus.”
FIRST Robotics Competition, for grades 9-12, ages 14- 18. Teams get six weeks to build and program a robot (that weighs in at 120 pounds) to compete in the game using a kit of parts provided by FIRST and a standard set of rules. This year’s challenge is named “Destination: Deep Space.” Under strict rules and limited time and resources, teams must raise funds, design a team “brand” and develop their teamwork skills. Participants are eligible to apply for $80 million-plus in college scholarships.
Photos: Rose Lam

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