Letter From a Dad
Continued from the July 2007 Newsletter...
Contrary to stereotype, this high school proudly fields a team of students determined to find a path to higher education. My son joins with these students several times a week at Columbia University, and there mentors from the University's Mechanical Engineering Department work with the kids to build a robot for competitive tournaments sponsored by FIRST. My son has become so committed to working with this, he has decided to pursue mechanical engineering as a career and college major, which is exactly what FIRST is meant to do-inspire kids to excellence in these fields. This effort comes not a moment too soon, as FIRST sees it, given that American students rank far below young people of other advanced nations in science and technology learning.
FIRST holds competitions nationwide and teams from all over the world participate. The finals are held in the Atlanta Georgia Dome, where as many as 10,000 parents and students participate. It is an inspiring thing to see so many enthusiasts around a subject that is increasingly vital to our country's wellbeing. The fact that so many kids are passionate about science and engineering prompts me to think those of us who can, should support this in every way possible. It is no accident, perhaps, that businesses needing talented minds in science and engineering are beginning to investigate ways in which they might support FIRST , as well as doing a little talent scouting at the tournaments. I understand that even colleges are beginning to scout FIRST, hoping to find some of the nation's most promising creative young minds.
How lucky I am that my son seems dedicated to his team and its mission. FIRST is an organization that is all about the positive forms of adolescent risk-taking and the reach toward independence. Even better, the organization teaches character while also helping the mind to grow. It is hard to imagine an organization that more positively addresses the developmental needs of high school students.