Pre-Engineering

FIRST Championship About Way More Than Robotics

It’s about the lessons it teaches its students, the empowerment it creates for its teachers, and the love of learning it fosters among all involved. FIRST Championship is the shining example of everything FIRST values: teamwork within and between teams; learning and on-the-fly problem-solving; “Coopertition®,” which is what we like to call displays of unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition; and “Gracious Professionalism®,” which encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and shows respect for everyone.

FIRST Championship is an incredible experience with many lessons, but there are three that can be applied to every classroom.

1. It’s not about winning—it’s about the journey

Competition is about so much more than who comes out on top. True winning means we’ve inspired a real love of learning in our students, teaching them to solve problems, work collaboratively, and communicate with others. Most important, it teaches them humility and resilience in the face of failure, and the innovation and creativity they need to overcome these obstacles. Our students frequently tell us they leave our program as very different people than when they joined. They transform from timid to confident leaders, from hesitant to adept engineers, and it’s a pleasure for us to watch them grow.


Innovation Lab Program Emerged from International Baccalaureate Authorization

A collective effort by the academic leadership team of the Solomon Schechter Day School of
Bergen County, the development of our Innovation Lab program emerged from our pursuit of
the International Baccalaureate(IB) authorization. As part of that effort, we introduced a design
thinking course in our middle school and hired a part-time design thinking faculty member.
 
Andrew Katz, our Director of Academic Affairs joined the school in mid 2017, bringing with him
experience in design and building innovation labs at two previous independent schools. Once we
created our vision for the program, we were fortunate enough to receive a donation from an
alumni parent, which enabled us to turn our vision into a reality. We then quickly turned our
focus to hiring an experienced director of the lab, and together - along with our science team,
librarian, and educational technology team -  began concentrating on developing a robust
curriculum, designing the space, and focusing on interdisciplinary integration across the school.
 
Our team also visited and initiated relationships with community maker spaces, such as the
Maker Depot in Totowa, N.J., which have offered advice regarding 3D printing and
demonstrated potential tools that will further inspire our design courses.
Solomon Schechter NJ

Dual Mission Education Institutes in Higher Education

As higher education faces declining enrollment numbers, reduced state funding, and accusations that it is elitist and out of reach for many Americans, university presidents, chancellors, and system heads from Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Utah, discussed new and innovative models of education that are addressing some of higher ed’s greatest challenges and the shortage of skilled workers. The dual education model can help universities save costs by sharing staff, faculty and infrastructure (it is essentially two schools for the price of one) and keep tuition low. It also allows students who start on a community college track to easily transfer their credits if they choose to continue their studies towards an advanced degree, and to do so much more seamlessly than if they were to transfer to a different school. Additionally, its open admissions policy means more underrepresented populations are getting a shot at a degree in higher education. 

The summit was hosted by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, the Utah State Board of Regents and UVU President Matthew Holland

With higher education increasingly in the cross-hairs, the summit provided a lively and timely debate on the future of higher ed and how to provide improved access to quality programs for students across the spectrum of need and opportunity. The following are transcripts from the conversation and links to the video.


$1.2 Million to Recruit Students to Become STEM Teachers

The grant from the National Science Foundation was awarded to the William & Mary, Robert Noyce Scholarship Program and allocated over five years to increase the number and diversity of students from STEM disciplines who become teachers.

The award was announced by Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine.

“Enhancing STEM education is a critical priority, and we are thrilled that William and Mary students and the National Science Foundation are partnering with schools in the local community to pursue this important endeavor,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement.


Preparing the Workforce to Adapt and Work Collaboratively with Robotic Solutions

Manufacturing in the U.S will build on its current strength by using “technology to empower American potential and ingenuity," according to the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM).

The institute, which is a member of Manufacturing USA, a network of regional institutes, looks to robotics to bring about the change. Robotics can “elevate, not eliminate the human roles in manufacturing,” ARM says.

The group’s mission is to help train the future workforce for the high-value careers that will determine the future of manufacturing. And it focuses on lowering the economic, technical, and operational barriers that companies experience in trying to adopt robotic technology.

Advance Robotics for Manufacturing

Community College MakerSpaces Offer Work-Based Learning in California

The CCC Maker Initiative is offering internships and work-based learning experiences for students through 24 California Community College makerspaces, where students gain technical, entrepreneurial and work-ready skills sought by employers.

“Makerspaces are widely recognized now as adaptive labs where learning is contextualized,” said Sierra College Superintendent/President Willy Duncan. “Faculty can offer meaningful projects tied to curriculum and students gain practical skills by interacting with industry partners. In a college makerspace, students practice innovation, develop problem-solving skills and connect to industry partners in cutting-edge fields. It is very motivating for students to see the application of what they have learned in the classroom.”  (https://cccmaker.com/)

Sierra College is serving as the administrator and fiscal agent of the $17 million CCC Maker initiative, which is funded by a grant from the California Community College Chancellors Office, and is focused on developing educational makerspaces within the Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy (http://doingwhatmatters.cccco.edu/) framework at community colleges throughout the state.

MakerSpaces in California

Inspiring Students to Pursue STEM Education Through Robotics

Dan Mantz had a vision for a robotics program that encouraged students to take to STEM fields and become engineers and skilled technicians. He’s now achieving it as the CEO of the Texas-based Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation. “We want to change the world by inspiring young people to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields,” Mantz said.

Dan Matz

Caterpillar to Strengthen STEM Pipeline; Drive Innovation in the Workforce

“Through the company’s dedication to building a STEM pipeline, Caterpillar has a long history of supporting FIRST by providing team sponsorship's and valuable mentor-ship from employee volunteers,” said FIRST President Donald E. Bossi. “FIRST is proud to call Caterpillar a strategic partner in our mission to inspire young people to become innovators, leaders, and creative problem solvers. Together, we can help even more students gain both the STEM and soft skills they need to achieve successful careers in the 21st century.”


Engineering Practices for Effective STEM Learning

“What if schools could offer a different approach to STEM education that provided students with truly immersive learning opportunities?” That question came to Ethan Berman, founder of i2 Learning, after the experience of his nine-year old daughter, who liked school but loved solving problems and making things with her own hands, especially, as she put it, “if it was something useful.”

That was what inspired Berman to found Boston STEM Week, which just concluded its second successful year by replacing the usual curriculum for the more than 6,000 students and 300 teachers across 37 Boston middle schools. During this week, schools replace their usual curriculum with projects aimed at building lunar colonies, creating interactive monsters, designing digital games, and practicing surgical techniques.

 


A Letter From Students: "Make STEM Education Count"

As juniors in high school, we are concerned about our future. Since we have started high school, we have taken on challenging classes in an effort to prepare ourselves for higher education. We all started taking high school level classes in middle school in preparation to take college classes that we are currently enrolled in as high school students.

Our high school requires more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses to graduate than what Idaho currently requires for graduation. We have spent hours preparing for and taking standardized tests including ISATs, civics exam, biology EOC (End of Course) assessment, and college entrance exams. In addition to all of our academic endeavors, we have all participated in community service activities and extracurriculars. Our class dreams big, and we are not afraid to put forth the extra effort to achieve those dreams.


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