With team names like “The Loose Screws,” “Robo Warriors” and “Geeks in Just Their Underpants,” it was a safe bet the FIRST Tech Challenge Virginia Championship would not be your average scholastic event. True to form, the daylong robotics tournament in Richmond March 1st mixed equal parts technical ingenuity, competitive spirit and uncanny humor.
The Steward School in Henrico County is turning the student-teacher dynamic upside-down, placing babies at the head of the class. Health teacher Meredith McGuire recruited Dr. Charles Terry, a local pediatrician and Steward School board member, along with a group of babies and toddlers to lead lessons on human development.
December marks the beginning of competition in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge, with qualifying matches scheduled across Virginia in the coming weeks. More than 140 teams statewide now participate in the fast-growing FTC robotics program.
Albert Einstein once said, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” This is still true for us today as it is increasingly more important for our children to learn to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. For us to compete globally, we need to teach our kids to be flexible thinkers who can develop solutions, not just memorize facts for the next test.
Eight year old Neha Bandaru made the trip with her mom from Northern Virginia to Richmond…to test drive robots. “It’s amazing what all these robots can do,” smiled the third-grade student. “I don’t think it makes a difference how old you are or whether you’re a girl or a boy,” said Neha. “When I grow up, I want to make a robot that’s huge and use a lot of technology, and then show it to kids.”
“All right, let’s move.” The command breaks the silence, and the novice sculptors wheel their chest-high tripods counter-clockwise, circling the model posed on the stand. The instruction comes from Morgan Yacoe, a 2011 graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts’ nationally ranked sculpture program.
Two Richmond girls joined more than 150 children ages 4 to 17 on a critical mission to Washington D.C. this summer. Representing the JDRF Central Virginia Chapter, Bridgette Schutt, 6, and Kamryn Anderson, 12, traveled to our nation’s capital as delegates to the biennial JDRF Children’s Congress to personally urge their lawmakers to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D).
There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.
We have a lot to be proud of here in Virginia. And we are very proud of our Rising Stars! Virginia students who are working hard to improve our nation's standing in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Each year, thousands of students in Virginia conduct scientific research, develop innovative solutions to world problems, and compete in statewide and national STEM competitions.