Source
Administrator Magazine
Scholastic Administrator is a must-read resource for 240,000 of today's results-driven school leaders. Every issue features leadership for education executives, insight and analysis into what's next in education, and reporting on cutting-edge technologies in real life applications.

Robots Make Tech Cool

Inventor Dean Kamen on his Segway Human Transporter. Associated Press/Suzanne Plunkett
Inventor Dean Kamen on his Segway Human Transporter. Associated Press/Suzanne Plunkett

Most adults know Dean Kamen as the creator of the Segway Human Transporter. But tens of thousands of schoolchildren around the world know Kamen as the inventor of FIRST, a nonprofit organization that stages three worldwide robotics competitions. The purpose of these challenges is to teach teamwork and problem-solving skills while giving kids a close-up look at possible careers in engineering and science.

Research conducted by Brandeis University shows that FIRST alumni choose engineering careers seven times as often as other college students. Thirty-three percent of female FIRST alumnae, 27 percent of African-Americans, and 47 percent of Hispanic alumni report majoring in engineering, compared to national averages of two percent, five percent and six percent, respectively.

Kamen was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005. He also holds more than 440 U.S. and international patents, mostly for medical devices, including a portable infusion pump, portable dialysis machine, and a sophisticated mobility device for the disabled.

During the academic year, more than 130,000 students participated in local qualifiers for FIRST.

Then more than 10,000 student finalists from 538 teams and 23 countries vied for titles in three divisions. During the annual FIRST Championship, held at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome in mid-April, Kamen sat down with Scholastic Administr@tor to talk about the power of competition.

Scholastic Administra@tor: Why did you found FIRST?

Kamen: It’s an overabundance of distractions and nonsense that convinces kids that other things are easier, more fun, or more important than becoming seriously competent in science, technology, inventing, problem-solving, thinking, and analytics. And I say we have to break the general feeling that science and technology isn’t fun, isn’t cool, and isn’t accessible to women and minorities.

We formed FIRST in 1989. Notice the word “education” is not in the name; it sounds like a competition that makes kids say, “I want to be first.” And you look at the acronym: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

SA: What do kids get out of competing?

Kamen: Whereas the NBA doesn’t have millions of jobs and Hollywood doesn’t have millions of jobs, the world of technology is unbounded. The opportunities are huge. Our goal was to form an organization whose aim is to change the culture, particularly among young women and minorities, to one in which they can embrace science and technology as serious options and to do it with the same intensity as they do in sports and entertainment.

So we’re sitting in the home of the 1996 Olympics doing the world’s ultimate sporting event for humans, because the only sport I can think of in which humans are in the unlimited class versus other animals is inventing and creating.

SA: What’s your opinion of the state of education in this country?

Kamen: I think the state of education is fine, but I would tell you kids have an enormous capacity to rise to the occasion, no matter how difficult you make the test, no matter how high you raise the bar. Just look at FIRST: They’ll exceed your expectations and their own expectations if they have the passion to do it. I think a little bit of passion is worth a whole lot of opportunity.

We have a massive educational system that’s sitting there, and if kids showed up as desperate to get a good education as to get on a varsity sports team, the whole complex of American culture would be radically better. We’re just trying to get those kids to try to leverage the educational system that we have. And, by the way, by doing it, we will be raising the bar. In doing it, the students will demand that the math teacher is really good. They fire the football coach who has a losing record but nothing happens to the [incompetent] math teacher.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Teaching With Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts & More

    Teaching With Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts & More

    by Kathleen Fitzgibbon

    Knowing the best and easiest ways to use dynamic digital resources helps teachers and students alike thrive in today’s classroom. This book of quick tips and practical ideas shows how to fuse technology with everyday teaching. Readers will learn ways to use presentation software, e-portfolios, digital cameras, interactive whiteboards, and other teacher-tested tools to enhance learning and motivate students. Other tips include guiding students through a productive Web search, innovative ways to publish student work, and strategies to effectively manage the classroom.

    $7.14 You save: 35%
    eBook | Grades 3-12
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Teaching With Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts & More
    Grades 3-12 $7.14
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Science Lessons for the SMART Board™: Grades 1–3

    Science Lessons for the SMART Board™: Grades 1–3

    by Judith Bauer Stamper


    View Sample Pages



    Research shows that learning is more motivating and fun on an interactive whiteboard. But teachers have very little time to create lessons for the SMART Board™. These ready-to-use lessons—in Notebook software—offer the perfect solution! Sure to engage students, the timesaving activities included in the book and Companion Folder teach about animals, plants, matter, magnetism, electricity, and so much more. A great way to reach all learners and meet the standards! 80 pages CD.

    You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher, to view and print the sample page above. Get Adobe Reader® for FREE.

    $17.24 You save: 25%
    Professional Book | Grades 1-3
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Science Lessons for the SMART Board™: Grades 1–3
    Grades 1-3 $17.24
    Add To Cart
Help | Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR NAME

* YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

* RECIPIENT'S EMAIL ADDRESS(ES)

(Separate multiple email addresses with commas)

Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email.

INCLUDE A PERSONAL MESSAGE (Optional)


Scholastic respects your privacy. We do not retain or distribute lists of email addresses.