Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Robots Are Us

While it may appear that writing and organizing in the UFT is my major activity, since I retired 5 years ago I've been even more involved in the NYC robotics community through volunteer activities with NYCFIRST, the local incarnation of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) which puts on various tournaments for kids from age 6-high school all over the world.

My focus has been the FIRST LEGO League, where teams of kids from age 9-14 build and program robots out of LEGO materials. That makes for an interesting competition with 4th/5th graders competing on the same playing level as 9th graders. (And they do pretty well.) There are over 8000 teams world wide.


A team from a public elementary school at the tournament at Brooklyn Tech last year. The teacher has left after 2 years to start a program at a private school, citing the high class sizes as a reason. (See, I can combine robotics and ed politics.)

We are just completing the registration procedure for this year and at this point have 180 NYC teams from all 5 boroughs, mostly from public schools. We have grown so much that we are running events in each borough in December. All of these events are mostly run by high school kids from the senior robotics teams at Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant, Aviation, Lehman and Staten Island Tech, along with their great teacher/coaches.

The top 80 teams will go on to the citywide at Riverside State Park at the end of January. The winning team there may have an opportunity to go to Atlanta for the World Festival, which includes teams from all over the world. I went last year and had a blast. One of the interesting highlights was seeing teams from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordon and Israel interact. And teams from different Chinas - Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai.

A bunch of us from NYC may be going to Japan at the end of April to assist with the Asian Open tournament. Konichiwa.

This Saturday we are holding a kickoff event at Polytechnic U. in downtown Brooklyn from 9-1. Stop by if you are in the area. Or come on down to one of the events in December and think about getting your school involved for the future. You can check it all out at my robotics blog .


1 comment:

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