ERIC Number: EJ915484
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Feb
Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em!
Waters, John K.
T.H.E. Journal, v38 n2 p30-35 Feb 2011
K-12-level competitive robotics is growing in popularity around the country and worldwide. According to one of the leading organizers of these events, FIRST--For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology--250,000 students from 56 countries take part in its competitions. FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a yearly event the organization puts on for high school students and employs a sports model, pitting teams of up to 10 students who design, build, and program robots against each other. Real-world mentors have, naturally, become an essential part of the K-12 robotics model. Julie Townsend, a robotics engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, became a mentor in 2007. She says mentors are essential to the strength of these programs, and including female engineers in the mix is important--to demonstrate to young girls that their participation is nothing out of the ordinary. Townsend mentors the Rock 'n' Roll Robots, one of the few all-girl robotics teams that compete in the FTC. Last year, the Rock 'n' Roll Robots won the prestigious FIRST Tech Challenge Inspire Award, which the organization considers to be its highest honor. FIRST's Ken Johnson observes that robotics instruction itself is expanding. He says they are seeing a lot of teachers and administrators pulling together different elements that map the process of FTC and robots toward curriculum areas. He thinks that convergence is going to continue at an accelerated pace, because it's such a good tool in that context.
Descriptors: Robotics, Competition, Global Approach, Elementary Secondary Education, Mentors, Learner Engagement, Teamwork, Cooperation, Program Administration, Public Speaking, High School Students, Engineering Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Texas