Chris sits down with Barbara Gomez de Navarro who brought FIRST to Mexico and interviews competitors at the FIRST world tournament for this special episode. Barbara shares her and her family’s story bringing FIRST to Mexico, which provided hands-on STEM education to schools around the globe. Competitors from three different teams also give some insight into their robotics journeys.
[00:00] Start of episode
[01:00] Barbara-from FIRST
[12:00] Amira-Fighting Unicorns
[15:54] Mahee-Fighting Unicorns
[21:29] Christian-Bionic Lizards
[27:27] Eric-Bionic Lizards
[33:27] Juan Antonio-Devolt Phobos
Barbara on FIRST Robotics
Barbara said that bringing FIRST to Mexico 20 years ago was challenging, but that passion moved them forward. First and foremost, Barbara wanted to make an impact in communities of kids, especially helping children who have normally lost opportunities. She said that, in time, she saw kids blossom in the program as people cultivated mentorships and built communities through the robotics teams.
“As a parent, you see something that is good for your children and you see the potential it could be for other children—especially when you think of underserved kids, you have to do it.”
Amira and getting girls interested in STEM
In his second interview, Chris talks with Amira from Hatheway Brown High School in Cleveland, Ohio who serves as the Outreach and Communications Lead for her team, The Fighting Unicorns. Her team won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Buckeye Regional in March for her team’s community outreach, helping to get girls more interested in STEM. Amira said that while it may be intimidating at first, there is a support network and a place for girls in STEM.
“I think that's really the most incredible thing—to see more girls become interested in STEM and to lessen the gender gap within the STEM career.”
Mahee and Community Outreach
Chris talks with Mahee, the Communications and Outreach Secondary Lead for the Fighting Unicorns about their efforts in promoting STEM in Africa through TechLit Africa events and other Cleveland tech meetups. Their team has even worked with Nelli Chaboi, the founder of TechLit Africa and winner of CNN’s Hero of the Year. Mahee says that, personally, she has picked up many valuable skills from being involved with FIRST Robotics by collaborating with other programmers and learning to code along the way.
“We have also tried to spread our impact internationally, and we will only continue to grow.”
Christian on Building Community and Picking up Skills
Christian from Robert H. Lewis High School in Los Angeles designs, drives, and programs on his team, the Bionic Lizards. Christian says that they not only build robots but also community. Christian says that he has also picked up a few secondary skills like critical thinking and problem solving from being involved with the robotics team as well. He says that he also recommends the program for other students and thinks that it could benefit anyone.
“There's a lot more mistakes to be made, and a lot more to learn from. Because one can make mistakes once a week. But for this, you can make five mistakes in a day and it helps you learn a lot and make sure to not make them again.”
Eric on Learning through Robotics and Looking Forward
Chris talks with Eric, a builder and driver for the Bionic Lizards about how FIRST robotics has helped him in many areas of his life. He said that robotics has opened him up to new avenues and that he has learned many valuable skillsets along the way. He says that him and his team also have each other’s backs and that he values the friends he has made from being a part of robotics. Additionally, the mentorships along the way, Eric says, helped bring him to where he is now as he plans on attending college.
“I guess you could say just everything in robotics helped me realize that I'm able to do anything I want. It helped me realize that I'm able to do just anything, whatever I want. And however I want.”
Juan Antonio on Robotics in Mexico
Juan Antonio is from Chihuahua, Mexico and goes to Universidad TecMilenio. Juan and his team Devolt Phobos do a lot of community outreach in Mexico, as they encourage kids to get involved with FIRST and STEM. He is planning to study architectural engineering where he can combine his interests at the crossroad of arts and engineering. Through FIRST, he has also had the opportunity to apply for scholarships, helping him with his endeavors moving forward.
“In Mexico . . . there are a lot of kids that don't go to school . . . telling them about this or showing them our experience and all that is here and all things they can do—with our help, it's what motivates them.”