Starting on a robotics team, regardless of age, is a daunting task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The season is filled with ups and downs, triumphs and failures, and new challenges everywhere you look. The sheer scope of the program can be terrifying if you are experiencing it alone. Luckily, no one should have to.
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton
Robotics is not a solitary endeavor. Look to older students on your team or adult mentors to help guide you through the season. Most people you will encounter genuinely want to help you grow and learn as a person.
In my own life, I have had many different mentors. One mentorship started when I joined an FRC team as a seventh grader. At the time, being the youngest around and new to all friend groups terrified me. I kept to myself most of the time. Into the season, another girl on the team began to talk to me. She was a freshman at the time and her encouragement helped me gain the confidence to speak up at meetings. Currently, she is a freshman at a local University and I am a junior on my team. We still talk, and her simply becoming friendly with me when I first joined the team solidified my involvement with FIRST.
Each one of us at one point or another has been influenced by a mentor. They shape us into the people we will be in the future. Even as students ourselves, we have an incredible amount of knowledge that can be shared with younger students. There is no age requirement for being an inspiring part of someone’s life. We have been that inspiring factor and hope to be in the future for more students to come.
Over the summer, we volunteered at a local computer science camp for ages 7 to 12. The camp focused on arts and crafts along with computer science. Every day, the theme was different. One day it was circuits and the kids lit up LED lights using play dough and a battery. Another day, the theme was sound and the kids made telephones out of plastic cups and string. That same day, they also learned about how to program with sound on Scratch. The theme of each day was interwoven between arts and crafts and programming to broaden the appeal of computer science. Here is a picture of Alison working with some campers and here is a picture of Hannah doing the same. Check out the entire facebook photo album from the camp here.
Throughout the week, we noticed some kids getting frustrated while using the computers. We wanted to do the best we could to help them learn the programming concepts being taught. It wasn’t always as easy as we thought it would be. While teaching the most basic computer science topics, we had to be extremely patient while the kids got the concepts under their tiny little fingers. Seeing that light bulb go off in their brains when they understood a concept was extremely rewarding. Through this experience, we gained some insight into the life of a mentor or more experienced student on a robotics team. Although it may be frustrating at times, the satisfaction of passing on knowledge to someone younger than you can be an amazing feeling.
As the week progressed, the kids seemed to be getting more and more proficient with programming concepts as well as with navigating Scratch. We were a part of teaching them these skills, which will undoubtedly come in handy in their futures. Seeing these young kids getting excited about computers and programming really opened our eyes to how much we can do to impact the future. It is extremely fulfilling to know that we have been a part of inspiring the future of computer scientists, engineers, and other jobs that are needed in the world.
Go out and mentor a student or volunteer at a camp that supports STEM education. It’s not only great to volunteer, but you will also learn and grow yourself while promoting the future of science, technology, engineering, and math. After reading this, we hope each one of you finds someone to help through their FIRST journey.
This blog post was written by Hannah Snesil and Alison Palmer of FRC Team 1086 Blue Cheese. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule.
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