FIRST Robotics

Over the last couple years we have seen some $26 million allocated to island sport in the forms of cricket and football.  While some consider this to be a valued investment in the encouragement of national and local pride within our youth others cannot help but feel like it is a great deal of money to be spent on sport.

One area where this writer would personally like to see much greater investment is in the encouragement of youth interest in science and technology to ensure Bermuda isn’t left behind within this field.  One great means of exposure to science and technology for youth is the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competitions which this year featured competitors from 23 countries. 

For those unfamiliar with the FIRST robotics competitions, as described by the US FIRST website, they are special challenges designed for “teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard ‘kit of parts’ and a common set of rules.  Teams build robots from the parts and enter them into a series of competitions designed by Dean Kamen (entrepreneur & inventor known for the Segway Scooter and other inventions), Dr. Woodie Flowers, and a committee of engineers and other professionals.”

The FIRST robotics competition can be an incredible introduction to the technology field and give the youth the ability to compete in a sport of the mind rather then just the body.  It has evolved over the years to become a well run and well recognized competition that has grown internationally.

Is such an event something that could help encourage our own youth to become more interested in science and technology?  Could Bermuda enable itself to put together a team out of our various high schools to send off to compete and find local sponsors to assist?  Would a Bermudian entry in the next FIRST robotics competition encourage youth to advance their interest in education and provide an alternative means of national pride based upon sport of the mind rather then body? 

Hopefully next year we’ll see part of the budget dedicated to encouraging such efforts.

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