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How do you change the world?

A FIRST Robotics Championship is a spectacle to behold. Throngs of students crowd the stands, the blocks of colored t-shirts marking their stake in the match below. The music thunders, the beat is insistent. Flags sway side to side, propelled in rhythm by the students wielding them. And then there are the robots: bots from China, bots from Australia and Canada, bots from Israel and India and Africa, and of course, bots from the United States. Some are ungainly, some are elegant, but all get the job done.
The real story, though, is the students, the ecstasy and the anguish written on their faces. And so it was with our own students too. There was the exhilaration of an early strong win and a subsequent high ranking, and the crushing blow of a later defeat when we seemed unable to do anything positive in the face of a strong alliance win by the competing teams.
Pride was written everywhere on the faces of students, nowhere etched deeper than on our own. Ours was a rookie team whose first public robotics competition was the regional competition earlier this year. And a month later they were in the thick of it, with the best the world has to offer. The impact on their self-esteem, on their confidence, and on their new sense of self has been enormous. The entire team, all six of them, asked me at one time or another if they could come back to mentor the high school and even the middle school. Parents made suggestions for future years—how to raise funds, and how they would like to continue to be a part of it. A student of ours who is going to college in Montana talked about how he was going to seek out local schools there so he could mentor them. And everyone, students, parents, mentors and coaches alike felt that something important, something valuable was begun here. This is how you change the world, by changing students’ lives…one robot at a time.

Bursting with pride
Bursting with pride

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