I Got To Meet Dr. Woodie Flowers!
If you know anything about FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), you’ve probably heard of Dr. Woodie Flowers. Dr. Flowers is an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering from MIT. He has been a mentor for FIRST for a long time, and his contributions to the program are numerous. One of the most important things that Dr. Flowers talks about when discussing FIRST is the importance of Gracious Professionalism. According to Dr. Flowers, “[i]n FIRST, we do our best work while helping others and treating folks with respect and kindness.” (YouTube, Jan 6, 2014) Dr. Flowers is one of the most recognizable figures in the FIRST community and I got to meet him at the 2019 FIRST World Championship!
2019 FIRST World Championship
Enable has been working with FIRST for a long time now and in April, we were invited to attend the FIRST Championships in Detroit, Michigan. Every April, FIRST holds championships for each of its four leagues: FIRST Lego League Junior, FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Challenge. This year I got to witness the best of the best compete first hand. Walking through the halls of the Cobo Convention Center, it was difficult to remember that the innovative minds competing in the Championships were all between elementary and high school students.
Through the four days of the competition, students were matched against their peers in space-themed games. I was able to watch kids as young as eight show off the Lego machines they had built. I was fortunate enough to attend the fantastic FRC competitions where five-foot-tall robots raced around a game field carrying balls and attaching ports to their ‘spaceships’.
When the folks from FIRST invited us to the championships, I was immediately excited for the chance to see the robots I’ve written about up close. Enable Education has developed resources for FIRST in the past, and I thought that the trip would be the perfect opportunity to watch kids compete with the robots they’ve built. Being in the Cobo Center packed full of FIRST participants from all over the world allowed me to learn more about the culture that FIRST inspires and the passion that drives teams to succeed.
So what were the big takeaways from the 2019 Detroit FIRST Championships for me? During the day the convention held what it called ‘innovation fairs’. At these fairs, companies and organizations were asked to present some of the STEM-based innovations that they were developing. During one of these fairs, I had the opportunity to watch a 10-year-old girl play tic-tac-toe with a robot and then explain how the robot worked. FIRST offers a fantastic opportunity for students all over the world to pursue their interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. More than that, it provides an outlet for kids to demonstrate their abilities and gain some recognition for their incredible talents.
Enable Education is thrilled to be working with FIRST, and together, we can contribute to the empowerment of students all over the world.
Edu Team 1 FIRST Robotics 1 Innovation 1 Recap 1 Robotics 4 STEM 6