Two years ago when I went with Herndon High School’s FIRST Robotics team to the national championship in Atlanta GA I signed up for the Connect a Million Minds project. http://connectamillionminds.com/
During the 2011-2012 school year I continued to support the Herndon High team as a meeting chaperone and by accompanying them on a really long bus ride to chaperone the Bayou Regional outside of New Orleans, LA. That also involved spending most of one day at an urgent care center with a sick student. Then came the DC Regional which was a short bus ride but another sick student and I had to get the bus to stop in McLean where his parent picked us up and took me over to the Metro to ride into the competition at the DC Convention Center. It was a long season that year.
I have been helping the Herndon High team for over 10 years and since my youngest son graduated last spring it was now time to do something else to help connect those minds. This fall, several colleagues and I started a Saturday morning club for girls called GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science). We had 32 girls come during two six week sessions. It was tons of fun to see them interact with each other, the female teachers and our female guest speakers in this single sex environment. Most sessions started with a female role model from a STEM career who spoke about their job and then helped us with a hands on activity. We were lucky to have so many outstanding female mentors to share their expertise including a former IT professional, a nurse supervisor from Inova Hospital system, a DNA researcher from Georgetown University, an engineer working for the US Army, a technology specialist from the Fairfax County school system, the COO of Reston Hospital, a data specialist from the school system and two amazing college freshmen who shared their senior high school science fair project that took them all the way to the International Science Fair.
However, FIRST Robotics seems to be in our family blood now and my husband, Bob, has mentored the FIRST Tech Challenge Team at HHS for a number of years including this year and was either the field supervisor or the score keeper at three different FIRST regional competitions this year. On Saturday, March 31 I went down to the convention center (this time on the Metro intentionally) to check out the teams and cheer Herndon on (they made it all the way to the semi-finals)! A colleague of mine from the elementary school brought five young boys down to see the competition too. It was so much fun to explain the bots and how they are made and then explain the game to these eager young guys. They went back to the pit area (where robots live and are repaired when they aren’t on the game field) and got to ask questions and see some robots up close. One day, they may be on a FIRST team too! One mind at a time…