"FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills." (firstinspires.org)
"Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership." (firstinspires.org)
GRT was one of the first FRC teams in the state of California, when we entered in 1997. We have competed since then, earning numerous awards. More importantly, however, we serve as a model for other FIRST programs and other engineering opportunities around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Where once there was nothing but a struggling class with eight students, there is now a thriving program with 10 classes and 4 suggested pathways. GRT has been so successful that there is a new hunger at our school for project-based classes that connect students to the real world. Engineering instructor Bakari Holmes has introduced Digital Electronics and Introduction to Engineering Design, both of which are Project Lead the Way® courses, and both of which feed into our Engineering Technology classes. Mr. Holmes and Mr. Dunbar have worked closely with Josh Paley, our computer science instructor, to create cohesive pathways for students that give them meaningful, contextual engineering experience while still in high school.
We bring in mentors from industry to help coach students along. These mentors do not work the tools in general, but they are there to help the students do what they need to do. More experienced students help the newer students as well. Veteran students know that they are to take a rookie with them every time they need to make something, so that the newer student can be a helper and learn by working along.
We rely on two very strong motivators on this team: the team members' knowledge that their designs may be in completion with other designs, and their knowledge that the rest of the team is depending upon them. This is so unlike most other classroom situations, and it's a big reason why the students on the team work so hard to do well!