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STEM Spirit, Robotics and Village Glen

Last Saturday, on a cold, bright and early morning, a throng of students and adults descended on USC (University of Southern California) for a 7:30am viewing of the 2015 FIRST Robotics Competition reveal. The hall was hushed as the animation played, some taking notes, some with laptops open viewing it in stereo. Immediately after the short video, the throng made a beeline for the distribution center to get their kit of parts. The line snaked out from one building to the next, each eager recipient dragging their yellow and grey totes to their waiting car, truck or van. Village Glen was part of that throng, and while waiting, team members, coaches and mentors alike all shared experiences, asked a myriad questions, all to get a handle on the task at hand—how to build a robot in 6 weeks that could master the challenge. (http://www.villageglen.org/2015-first-robotics-competition/). At 10am parents, mentors, team members and coaches met at school to inventory the parts, discuss strategy, meeting times, review the manual, watch the reveal again, and generally share the excitement. On Sunday, 10 teams met at a high school in the south bay for a “kit-build day”. It was an amazing sight—other teams had 10, 20 members there. Village Glen had just 5. We quickly distributed our 5 team members among mechanics, software and electronics—two, one two. And we dived in head first. What I saw was an experience in itself: five students who worked almost non-stop from 8am to 5pm, with just a 15minute break for pizza; our students cooperated not only with each other, but with outside mentors, and with other teams. They borrowed tools, they lent them, they were social, and they were gracious. They were perfect. At the end of just one day, 5 Village Glen high school students constructed a running drive train—a tremendous mechanical, software and electronics achievement! And in the process, they were motivated like I’ve never seen them before—all said they couldn’t wait to be at school the next day. And besides their team-work and cooperation, they learned to use tools in a real-world setting, while solving real-world problems. That’s the spirit of Village Glen in 2015.


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