The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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- Length: 354 pages
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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.
As I stated above, the story takes place in 2009 Lunacy competition. It is about 3 teams, but mainly focus around the California team of Team 1717, D' Penguineers. It does not only focus on build season and the competition. It gives stories of the students, Amir (the coach), and Dean Kamen (Creator of first and I love that guy). This background story is introduce in the beginning of the story and so is the 2009 Lunacy game, though I believe that if you just watch the Youtube video it would be better.
Characters..I mean people
They may seem like characters, but they are actually people. In fact they exactly capture the diversity of a Robotics teams. There is Gabe Rives-Corbet, a Tae kwondo champion and also the team's programmer, then Turk, the very skill shooter, and many more. Bascomb have a nice list and description of these kids and you'll learn to love them throughout the story.
Now I can relate to that, because the team I was on was like that. I was a programmer who is into martial art and animations, then a very lovable, devious electrician, Carlton. There were many unique "characters" on my team as well, so those who aren't familiar with the robotics team or think these people aren't real or over exaggerated, just don't be so ignorant.
This is where my history gets in the way. At first it, the story is very compelling...well casual. I know the game, so the explanation of the was not a big deal for me and the story had a nice flow to it. There were speed bumps for me, because of several factor:
Let me explain why the Mentors gets me. My team basically have no mentors, we only had our coach and then graduates will drop in once in awhile, but they are no profession like Team 1717's Stan who was in the industry (programming). This annoyed me a little, but it was more like "Damn..lucky" then I got over it.
Tools...they did have better equipment than us and when it got to the point where they decided to build TWO robots that just got me...my team barely can make one robot, we have to recycled spare parts from our last year robot.
BUT because of this emotion that arise from this, this mean the book is doing its job to tell its story.
After I suck it in and continue reading, that's when it happened. I felt their pain and struggle as they struggled in Regional and then National. A constant question in my head was, "Why this team?"
This team not only show the Gracious Professionalism that Dean Kamen spoke of, but also best vividly captures all experience of every team out there. They help rookie teams, they make their own parts (for the most part), they figure out what's wrong with their robot- They even kick out a mentor that wasn't allowing them to work on the robot...their robot break down and they work fast and hard to solve these problems. They fought a plague and many more.... They faced both high-end and low-end team... it's pretty amazing.
There are short chapters about the other two teams and their struggle, which are really good break from Team 1717 story, but you need to pay attention on who's story it is.
Would I recommend this book? Of course. "The New Cool" really is a miss leading titled, but I can't think of anything else to describe FIRST Robotics. It's miss leading, because you expect someone preaching how cool this is and etc..but that's the thing...it's cool because of the struggle and the experience these kids-us kids face in and out competition. Coaches should read it, students, people outside of robotics should too....It's a definitely well put together...Good book.
I won't remember all the details of the book, but I will remember that fact the book capture the FIRST experience...well that's just the beginning..to truly experience FIRST you need to see it yourself. Encourage your school to pick it up and go to competitions..That's all I have to say.
[Not proof read]
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.
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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