Does your New Year’s resolution involve inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders, engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, and fostering well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership?
If so, is this a vision statement you can get behind?
“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”
If you answered YES, then you should definitely look into being a FIRST volunteer. In case you’re wondering, that stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” It’s a series of robotics programs (see below) for kids ages 6-18 that was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989. Since then, it has become popular not just in the United States, but over 50 other countries around the world! The programs that are available, depending on your location, include:
- Junior FIRST LEGO League for Grades K-3 (ages 6-9)
- FIRST LEGO League for Grades 4-8 (ages 9-16; 9-14 in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico)
- FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18)
- FIRST Robotics Competition for Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18)
If you’re not a robotics expert, don’t despair! FIRST needs volunteers from all walks of life. If you have experience in any of the following areas, they’d be happy to have your help! If you’re in the U.S. sign up using the Volunteer Information & Matching System and see if there are any opportunities in your area. If you’re outside the US, your best bet is to search on FIRST, Lego, and your country name. If you don’t see a lot of opportunities at first glance, keep in mind that some of the programs are seasonal, and may run only during Summer or Fall.
- Computer aided design
- Electrical engineering
- Graphic design
- Mentoring youth
- Project management
- Public relations
- Risk management
- Travel coordination
- Website development
If you don’t have time to volunteer, but you’d like to donate or sponsor a team, that would be great too! Sponsoring a team isn’t as quick and easy as donating, since you have to actually find a team. Best places to start looking are Google and/or the FIRST website for your state or country. If you need help finding one, comment here and I’ll see what I can do.
Happy 2012, everybody!