Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back to the Fray

I'm back from 4 days at the annual FIRST LEGO League partners conference in Manchester, NH, where people live free or die. A place with elected school boards. No mayors controlling their schools. Or no-nothing about education superintendents like Joel Klein. New Hampshire must be missing African-American and Hispanic parents who need the guidance of dictators. If NH had mayor Mike running things, the cemeteries would be overflowing.

Being away from the NYC ed/pol scene can be a good thing, especially in the FIRST environment where the focus is on creating wonderful experiences for kids - truly Children First. It is nice to see so many people who understand one of the prime missions in education. There is a great mix of educators, engineers and people from the business community. Many got involved as parents. A couple from Arkansas started out that way and now are handling the FLL in the state. They mentioned that one of the former members of a high school team called "The Bomb Squad" is now helping us in NY as a mentor.

I had some great conversations. One in particular with an engineer associated with a university who has seen the deterioration of the public schools in parts of his state due to the charter school invasion.

FLL is expected to have over 8000 teams in the US and Canada and 8000 more in 45 countries. This was a North American conference and most states were represented, as was Haiti and Colombia.

We got an exclusive look at the new Smart Moves game but are embargoed from revealing details until Kickoff on Sept. 3.


Teachers who get involved in FLL say it is the best thing they do all year. Registration is open now. The season runs from the beginning of the school year through mid-March, with borough qualifying tournaments and a citywide at the Javits Center which will take place concurrently with the high school events (FTC and FRC. Learn about all FIRST events: http://www.usfirst.org/).

FLL is for ages 9-14. Elementary, middle and even 9th graders in high school can take part. We had 150 teams from NYC take part in this past year's Climate Connections game.

Learn more about FIRST LEGO League: http://www.usfirst.org/community/fll/default.aspx?id=970.

Register a team (you can pay later): https://gofll.usfirst.org/.

Follow NYC robotics on my robotics blog.

Training and support are provided. Contact me if your school is interested.

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