This fall I was offered the opportunity to participate in the Hour of Code activities at Cedar Falls Schools. Given my passion for coding and developing the next generation of problem solvers/STEM professionals, I accepted the invitation and signed up to volunteer. The Hour of Code activity is where business professionals partner with elementary teachers during December by visiting a classroom and share about their experience in coding (the computer science field) and/or work with students while they complete their coding lessons.
DISTek has been supporting FIRST® programs for many years through donations of time and financial support. This past March, DISTek was a sponsor of the Iowa Regional, which featured FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams, and took place on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. The four day competition featured robot matches where two teams of three robots navigate a field to test each robot's engineering prowess.
DISTek has been encouraging youth in STEM and problem solving by sponsoring FIRST teams for many years. This year is no different. DISTek is sponsoring ten FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and eight FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams. We will also be sponsoring FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams when their season officially kicks off in January. In addition, we have ten DISTek team members that have committed their time to either coach or mentor teams.
Along with two other employees at DISTek, I received the privilege to be a judge at the Iowa regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The theme this year was steampunk and teams needed to work cooperatively to power a Victorian era steam powered airship.
Have you ever wished you were a Jedi with the power of the force such that with the wave of your hand, droids would fall backward? I created a simple LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot to provide that power to anyone. This LEGO robot with the program I call “The Force” has been a hit among children at STEM fairs.
I am a champion/advocate/passionate believer in STEM and the value of the FIRST® programs. I have written multiple blogs on the subject and shared what I view as the value of the FIRST programs. My involvement started with FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) over six years ago primarily because my daughter was old enough to join FLL (and who doesn’t like LEGOs?). Today, my whole family is actively involved not just during the season, but off-season as well. Instead of giving my perspective again, I would like to share a team member’s perspective, namely, my daughter, Megan, who is part of a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team that competed at the FIRST Championship competition in St. Louis this past season.
Recently, the Cedar Valley hosted the first Iowa Regional for FIRST® Robotics Challenge (FRC®) on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. This was an effort of many years by many who have seen the value of the FIRST programs. DISTek® has been a sponsor of the Cedar Falls High School Swartdogs (team 525) since 200? and sponsored many other FIRST teams financially and/or through coaching or mentoring.
I am in the middle of my sixth season coaching a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team. Each year has furthered my belief that FLL is valuable for all those that are involved. Recently, on December 5th, my team participated in the Cedar Falls Regional Qualifier.