Thursday, September 30, 2010
STEM Instructor Encourages Youth to Get Involved with FIRST & Girl Scouts
Working for National Instruments (NI) has given me the chance to be a mentor to students from grades 3 - 8. It has been amazing to work with these students and see their eyes light up when they "get it." And it's not just teaching them programming and building concepts, but so much more. For instance, yesterday I did a presentation to a group of kindergarteners at my daughter's school. I talked to them about what I do for NI and that as part of the job I get to mentor students of all ages. Then I pulled out a very simple LEGO Mindstorms robot and showed them what it did. Ninety kindergarteners and four robots. They sat amazed for nearly 15 minutes. Then I asked them a simple question: So, what does the robot do? After 5 minutes, they had it all figured out. The kindergarteners observed, interacted, and reported on what they found. And they had a blast doing it. I have also helped 6th graders build a trebuchet as part of a Roman history unit, 4th graders build a recycling plant that sorts colored ping-pong balls as part of a water recycling unit, and 3rd graders learn fractions of time in order to move their robot a certain distance. It has been so interesting to see all of the projects the students have come up with in 8 years of mentoring.
Girl Scouts of Central Texas are a proud sponsor of many teams that compete in all levels of FIRST competitions. This year they have been gracious enough to host mentor trainings and our Central Texas FLL Kickoff event. Their sponsorship of these teams allows many girls who would not otherwise have an opportunity to work on STEM related activities to excel at it. The teams from the Girl Scouts are always proud of the work they have done, work so well together, and show that math and science is not just for boys anymore. So get involved and get your kids involved in FIRST and other STEM activities. You will be amazed!