US STEM Initiative Attracts International Fellows to Orlando
ORLANDO, FL: Fellows visiting the United States as a part of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program spoke with students ages 6 to 18 and volunteers who participate in FIRST®, a K-12 STEM Robotics Initiative, as a part of their visit to the United States to learn more about the success of the FIRST® Progression of Programs in transforming the culture of Science and Technology to one that is mainstream and celebrated.
The Fellows, collectively from Finland, Greece, Italy, and Venezuela, spoke with students and admired their passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and the program’s commitment to conquering identified career-field challenges, such as workforce depletion and diversity and inclusion. CERN Diversity Analyst Ms. Ioanna Koutava of Greece was especially impressed with the Diversity and Inclusion Statistics of FIRST®. According to Longitudinal Studies by Brandeis University, FIRST® Participants are more than twice as likely to major in a STEM Career Field and 33% of Female Program Participants major in Engineering, which is above the national average. By combining robust and intricate robotics and engineering challenges, with access to over 50 million in scholarships, FIRST® prepares students for college and beyond by inspiring innovation and fostering creativity, leading all participants to enter the STEM workforce ready to change the world.
Younger students (grades 4-8) had the opportunity to present their LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robots programmed for FIRST® LEGO® League, one of the 4 FIRST® Programs. Teams, guided by the annual challenge theme (this year, HYDRO DYNAMICSSM), program an autonomous robot to compete on a thematic playing surface for points and design an innovative solution to a real-world problem, this year involving the Human Water Cycle. One team shared their problem of excessive water waste in the bath- tub and the design of their innovative solution: An ultrasonic water level sensor. As a part of the project requirements, teams must share their solution, leading many to interact with real-world professionals they might not otherwise have ever spoken to. This team, in particular, had the opportunity to share their solution with and get feedback from professionals at the St. John’s River Water Management Division. And now, added to that list of professionals, is International Visiting Fellows from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Students from the High School Program, FIRST® Robotics Competition, shared their experiences and newly found passion for STEM, specifically with regards to machining. Through this upper-level program, students must design and build, from scratch, a 120-pound robot. But that’s not even the challenge! What is: They have only 6 weeks to make it happen. Fellow Ms. Rosaria Marraffino of Italy who works in CERN’s Instructional Design Safety Training Unit commented specifically on the FIRST® Youth Protection Program’s commitment to training students to build and machine robots safely—an occasionally forgotten component of youth educational programs. Replicating the pressures and complications facing today’s scientists and engineers, FIRST® programs are gearing students up for a lifetime of success as they leave the programs ready to create solutions to the challenges of tomorrow.
- FIRST Impact and Longitudinal Studies: https://firstinspires.org/impact
- Women in STEM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_engineering_in_the_United_States
- FIRST Scholarships Program: https://firstinspires.org/scholarships
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $50 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.firstinspires.org
The LEGO Group is a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company is still owned by the Kirk Kristiansen family, who founded it in 1932. The LEGO Group is engaged in the development of children's creativity through playing and learning. Based on the world-famous LEGO® brick, the company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit www.LEGO.com.
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FIRST® LEGO® League, FIRST® LEGO® League Jr., HYDRO DYNAMICSSM and AQUA ADVENTURESM are jointly held trademarks of FIRST® (www.firstinspires.org) and the LEGO® Group. FIRST®, The FIRST® Logo, FIRST® Robotics Competition, FIRST® Tech Challenge, Gracious Professionalism®, and Coopertition® are registered trademarks of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). All used with special permission. In a partnership with Polk State College, Central Florida Robotics is the official operational partner responsible for administration of the FIRST® LEGO® League and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. programs in Central Florida.