“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family.” This is the gist of my whole experience with FIRST Robotics.
I started my FIRST experience as an active team parent, with my two girls being on the team. With this new found hobby becoming a passion for all of us, I shifted my gears to a rookie coach for a rookie team.
Moreover, I was the only lady coach in most of the tournaments that we participated then. I took it up, not just to feed my tech passion, but also to conduct the FIRST Robotics Class in a very structured way, so that it reaches out to more students.
All that we had was 1 EV3 kit, 5 kids gleaming with excitement and 10 super supportive parents. With the recent transition in technology from NXT to EV3, the whole season felt like a travel in unknown terrain. It was like a roller coaster ride, to some it gave nausea but to most of us it was very adventurous and thrilling.
Making the young team, work together was a challenge sometimes. We worked to value and respect every Team member. T.E.A.M = Together Everyone Achieves More became the mantra for the kids, rest of the season.
Team parents showed utmost Gracious Professionalism and cheered for all teams. They brought the celebrative feeling of FIRST to all the events.
What followed the success of the team, was more and more kids jumping into FIRST to have fun, just like their peers. The Best Coach Award that I received in the State Championship tournament, scaffolded parents trust and turned my self-doubts into confidence. It was a moment of self realization for me. Finally I found something, that which I love, that which I am good at and that which the world needs…….especially something in which I can be the super silly, my own self!
I would say, participation in FIRST programs is a life lesson for all kids, parents, coaches, mentors and volunteers. There are so many challenges that we face along the way. With every new challenge, we gain more strength, wisdom and character. The bigger the challenger, the bigger is the opportunity for growth.
What started as being a rookie coach, has today grown in multi-folds to several Jr.FLL, FLL and FTC teams coaching, Robotics camps and a whole brand new Robotics Academy. We have participated in FIRST World Championships, several community outreach programs and Expo. FIRST has crafted out raw talents into real leaders.
In every FIRST tournament, there is always comparatively lesser number of FIRST ladies than men. I encourage all the team moms to be equally participative in all team activities. Our team moms cheer and dance their heart out in all competitions.
For every 10 boys, we get 2 enrollment of girls in our FIRST teams. I constantly motivate the girls to never drop-out of the club, though the boys outnumber them. Girls have their own sweet ways of expressing their Robotics Skills. We have had our girls build beautiful twirling ballerina, intelligent beach house with sensors, LEGO Disney land etc.
I think, the best way to involve more girls and ladies in FIRST is by training more mothers to take up the role of coaches. I have personally seen girls thriving in dance, cheerleading and gymnastics, solely by the active participation of mothers. So right now, we are on a mission to training more mothers to take up leadership roles to be coaches of FIRST teams. We conduct free workshops to train mothers. I am pretty sure, we will reach a point very soon, wherein we will have ALL girls touched by the Midas Touch of FIRST!
Happy to be part of this lifetime of learning with FIRST. Proud to be a FIRST lady….. Three cheers to FIRST!
This blog was written by Kalai Sankar. Kalai Sankar is the founder and head instructor of Shiva Robotics Academy. The academy is the one stop solution for all the students who have been delving around for cool science exploration, hands-on learning and fun. If you are interested in blogging for blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.
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