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32 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Memoir of a Remarkable Program
I've participated in FIRST Robotics. I've been a part of the program for 7 years, 4 as a student and the past 3 as a mentor. During all of my time in the program, I've never been able to find something that has been able to capture the essence of FIRST. Something that is able to express the long nights, grueling machining, and endless problem solving. I have never found...
Published on March 1, 2011 by Tyler Roussos

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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blown Potential
I'll cut right to the chase here--what a disappointment this book was! Bascomb blew it. He had everything going for him and just butchered it. Compelling characters, great feel-good story, adversity of several varieties to overcome...and what did he give us? An intensely over-analyzed technical course in robot building with barely any proper attention given to the...
Published on February 18, 2012 by Samuel Gompers


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Memoir of a Remarkable Program, March 1, 2011
This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
I've participated in FIRST Robotics. I've been a part of the program for 7 years, 4 as a student and the past 3 as a mentor. During all of my time in the program, I've never been able to find something that has been able to capture the essence of FIRST. Something that is able to express the long nights, grueling machining, and endless problem solving. I have never found this atmosphere anywhere else in my life except in FIRST. The New Cool is able to capture the mood of a competition, the hurried scramble at the end of a build, and the pressure that each driver is fighting while piloting their robot around the playing field.

The New Cool details Amir and his rookie team in the FIRST Robotics competition Lunacy. Lunacy presented the team with several difficult obstacles which they needed to engineer reliable and efficient solutions to overcome. The change in the field base and the obscurely shaped game pieces were just two of the obstacles that teams were faced with.

Having competed in Lunacy, I can attest that it was one of the more difficult games FIRST has presented to teams. It changed many commonly known variables in the game and made designing an effective robot incredibly difficult. It was exciting to see the solutions that Amir and his team were able to both think of and implement, as they demonstrated both the creativity and drive of the team.

This novel, even for nontechnical people, presents an inspiring account of a remarkable group of students and their mentor. It's a great read that gives me reassurance that our future engineers and scientist will be able to take care of us.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting topic, outstanding writing, good message, and very fun to read, March 17, 2011
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This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
Although I previously had no experience or particular interest in robotics or science competitions, I do now. Neal Bascomb really made the story come to life and made me truly care about the progress of the students and their mentors as they went through the competition season.

This book highlights the societal importance of inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists and shows how dedicated, passionate educators can make a long-lasting impact on our advancement. It is comforting to know that there are teachers and students out there like those represented in this book. They are "cool" to me.

To top it off, it was really exciting and fun to read. Like all of Neal Bascomb's books, he makes the story alive, suspenseful, educational, and ultimately very enjoyable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling story of 21st century learning, March 1, 2011
This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
"21st Century Learning" is one of the buzzwords of educational reform. Yet Amir Abo-Shaeer and his Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy embody what true 21st century learning should look like. Robotics is usually taught in after-school clubs or private organizations, leaving its benefits to be enjoyed by a privileged few. Abo-Shaeer integrates robotics into the curriculum of his innovative engineering academy, transforming the learning experiences of youths in ways that are difficult to imagine. Fortunately, Neal Bascomb does a brilliant job of showing us exactly what that transformation looks like. The New Cool is a must read for all those interested in what teaching, learning, and schooling should become--and can become with visionary leadership.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FIRST robotics in words, April 10, 2011
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This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
Reading this book the month of the 2011 FIRST championships was good timing. I liked the organization of the book according to the time of the season. I liked reading about how the team became a powerhouse with a partially rookie team. (The teacher and mentors weren't new to FIRST.) I liked the description of the students and how they grew over the season along with the physical environment. I liked how the author introduced the reader to technical concepts in passing. I liked the focus on one team with interludes on others.

I think the book could have used a glossary of the technical words (like potentiometer) and not just the FIRST game words. If someone hasn't been exposed to the word before, it is easy to forget what "pot" stands for let alone what potentiometer means. I would have loved to see some pictures in the book. The only picture I saw was in the glossary - of the game field. Sharing this and including a picture of the environment would make it easier to visualize. Same for the Championship; it's hard to picture the scale for someone not involved with FIRST. I've described both a regional and robot to people and then they come and are shocked at how large everything is. I've never been to a Championship, but I'm sure I can't imagine that.

My only other complaint, is one I had about a math movie many years ago. By focusing on an extreme case, it makes it look like FIRST Robotics Competition is almost unattainable without working overnight and pushing to the physical breaking point. This is unhealthy and not something people thinking of starting a team should be worried about. Many teams do just fine without overnight sessions.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and think it is a great story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly captures the FIRST experience, March 22, 2011
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This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
Neal Bascomb does an incredible job capturing the excitement, stress, and finally true pride in oneself which forms the FIRST Robotics Competition. It captures what it means to shoot for the stars and find what human determination can achieve. Bascomb does an excellent job making the reader feel welcome the technical world of robotics, bringing to life the human element of the competition. A truly inspiring story which I recommend to anyone concerned for the future of education or with a curiosity for the power of determination.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book both for those involved with FIRST and those who don't know what it is!, March 3, 2011
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This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
FIRST I would like to say this is the first leisure book I have read since being at college for a year and a half and it is nice and relaxing to do so.

Also this book, for what I have read, has been very well written and I can see it being a good read for those that do not know what FIRST is about but also makes a connection to those who have been involved with FIRST. What I like about this book even more is that it goes over the 2009 season which was also my senior year in high school and my last year of involvement as a student in FRC.

I have not wanted to set it down but I have had to to get some sleep and to read the other not so fun books for my classes.

If you haven't gotten it yet, GET IT! Granted I don't know how it ends but if its at all like the beginning it will be a great read and end fantastic with you jumping out of your seat thinking that you just were involved with what the book is all about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New Cool, April 11, 2011
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This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
Loved this book. Tense and exciting. I am going to give it as gifts to some educators and politicians I know...These young adults both girls & boys and their teachers/mentors/parents were amazing. Wish more schools, parents & corporations would support brain athletics. Went on line and found that my old public high school had won this year for its region! So glad there is a FIRST challenge, just what our country needs to keep up in the world...just wish the TV people understood that the public would watch if it were to be promoted correctly...it can co-exist right along with other competitions we view. Right up there with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that attempts to explain what I do, April 10, 2011
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This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
I've been a FIRST FRC mentor for 13 years, and I have never doubted why I do it. Trying to explain what I do to the outside world is next to impossible. Mr Bascomb has managed to put into words in a story what many of us live each year.

Bringing in the student perspective as well as trying to bring the over view of FIRST is not easy, the book reads easily and I feel it gives the message those of us that work with FRC, FTC and FLL try to show our students.

I urge anyone who is concerned about where the students of today are going to wind up to find a FRC regional (start at usfirst.org) and see what these students are doing. Walk the pits, Talk to the teams, ask about the design process, how the team is managed, how it's funded. I know you will come away with a small portion of what I feel every week when I work with my team.

However a cautionary comment on those that see FIRST as the new best way to educate students. It's not about education, that's what schools do, it's about inspiring students to care about their future, to see a profession that is in demand, fulfilling and of use to society.

BTW the book makes a great gift for student leaders on a team as well as for teams that have become friends of your team ( that's my plan anyway)

Read this book, then find some FIRST events to attend. You will start to understand.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly-Compelling-Non-Fiction, March 30, 2011
By 
An Seanchai (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Hardcover)
If you've read Neal's previous work you will know he excels at telling a story. You can put your trust in him that he will do the same with this one about a group of inspired school kids and their equally inspiring teacher. Very rarely I have uttered words aloud in astonishment whilst reading a book in a coffee shop. Actually never until this. "No Way!". And the fact that The New Cool is a true story, retold for us, and not 'based on a true story' makes Neal king of 'Truly Compelling Non-Fiction'!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story of an Inspirational Teacher and a wonderful program, January 24, 2013
By 
Tracy Saunders (INCLINE VILLAGE, NV, US) - See all my reviews
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My son participated in Lego First League and he had the opportunity to go the the World Championships in St. Louis last year with his team. It is there I discovered this book, purchased it and read it cover to cover on the plane ride home. Every educator should read this. It is not about being a Geek or the smartest it is about being a hard worker, about the inspiration of a mentor and teacher. Wonderful read.
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The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts
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