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The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smartsby Neal Bascomb
Synopses & Reviews
That Monday afternoon, in high-school gyms across America, kids were battling for the only glory American culture seems to want to dispense to the young these days: sportsglory. But at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, in a gear-cluttered classroom, a different type of cool was brewing. A physics teacher with a dream- the first public high-school teacher ever to win a MacArthur Genius Award — had rounded up a band of high-I.Q. students who wanted to put their technical know-how to work. If you asked thesebrainiacs what the stakes were that first week of their project, they'd have told you it was all about winning a robotics competition - building the ultimate robot and prevailing in a machine-to-machinecontest in front of 25,000 screaming fans at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
But for their mentor, Amir Abo-Shaeer, much more hung in the balance.
The fact was, Amir had in mind a different vision for education, one based not on rote learning — on absorbing facts and figures — but on active creation. In his mind's eye, he saw an even morerobust academy within Dos Pueblos that would make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) cool again, and he knew he was poised on the edge of making that dream a reality. All heneeded to get the necessary funding was one flashy win - a triumph that would firmly put his Engineering Academy at Dos Pueblos on the map. He imagined that one day there would be a nationfilled with such academies, and a new popular veneration for STEM - a new cool - that would return America to its former innovativeglory.
It was a dream shared by Dean Kamen, a modern-day inventing wizard - often-called the Edison of his time - who'd concocted the verysame FIRST Robotics Competition that had lured the kids at Dos Pueblos. Kamen had created FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) nearly twentyyears prior. And now, with a participant alumni base approaching a million strong, he felt that awareness was about to hit critical mass.
But before the Dos PueblosD'Penguineers could do their part in bringing a new cool to America, they'd have to vanquish an intimidating lineup of super-teams- high-school technology goliaths thathailed from engineering hot spots such as Silicon Valley, Massachusetts' Route 128 technology corridor, and Michigan's auto-design belt. Some of these teams were so good that winningwasn't just hoped for every year, it was expected.
In The New Cool, Neal Bascomb manages to make even those who know little about - or are vaguelysuspicious of - technology care passionately about a team of kids questing after a different kind of glory. In these kids' heartaches and headaches - and yes, high-five triumphs --we glimpse the path not just to a new way of educating our youth but of honoring the crucial skills a society needs to prosper. A new cool.
Fromthe Hardcover edition.
Bascomb relates the story of MacArthur Genius Award-winning physics teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, who envisioned a robust academy for high I.Q. students who wanted to put their technical know-how to work.
About the Author
NEAL BASCOMB has published a number of international and national bestsellers, including Higher, The Perfect Mile, Red Mutiny and Hunting Eichmann. His books have been optioned for film, featured in several documentaries and translated in 10 languages. He has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. He and his wife and their two daughters make their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
Dramatis personae — Time line — Prologue — Kickoff — Strategy — Week one: 43 days until robot ship — Week two: 36 days until robot ship — Competition: the ThunderChickens, Team 217 — Week three: 29 days until robot ship — Week four: 22 days until robot ship — Competition: 2Train Robotics, Team 395 — Week five: 15 days until robot ship — Week six: 8 days until robot ship — 96 hours until ship — Los Angeles Regional Competition: Long Beach Arena, March 12-14, part I — Los Angeles Regional Competition: Long Beach Arena, March 12-14, part II — Competition: Heroes of Tomorrow, Team 67 — Sacramento Regional Competition: the Pavilion, University of California, Davis, March 26-28, part I — Sacramento Regional Competition: the Pavilion, University of California, Davis, March 26-28, part II — FIRST championship: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, April 16-18, part I — FIRST championship: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, April 16-18, part II — Epilogue — Notes — Game glossary — Acknowledgments.
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