4-H is teaming up with FIRST as part of its “One Million New Scientists. One Million New Ideas.” campaign. Over the next four years 4-H has set a goal to engage one milion new young scientific thinkers.
The Girl Scouts of the USA have teamed up with FIRST as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) career program. The partnership was designed to foster opportunities for girls to explore STEM by providing hands-on experience in the designing, building and programming of robots while applying the concept of “gracious professionalism” during competition. The partnership is made possible through support from the Motorola Foundation.
It would appear that there are a growing number of individuals that feel the school systems can not handle the ever increasing demand for critical thinkers. “The global economy is constantly demanding a more technologically competent workforce…,” said Paul Gudonis, FIRST President.
It would also appear that climate change and energy alternatives are at the top of the list demanding critical thinkers. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. Among the concerns for human health are ground-level ozone, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
FIRST, and FIRST supporters, are working on solutions. This year’s FIRST LEGO League competition involved building robots out of LEGOs that would solve climate change problems.
Lonnie Johnson is an inventor that serves as a FIRST ambassador, as well as, FIRST event judge. In 1979, he became Senior Systems Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter; however, Dr. Johnson is probably best known for inventing the Super Soaker. It was the top selling toy in 1991 and 1992 and has generated over $1 billion in sales.
But, don’t let LEGOs and Super Soakers get you thinking this is all child’s play. Dr. Johnson has developed a program to help educate the youth on climate change. In addition, he is putting his money where is mouth is by investing in energy technologies.
Two of Dr. Johnson’s companies are devoted to developing alternative energy technologies.
Excellatron Inc. mission statement is “to develop revolutionary energy storage technology as well as the manufacturing technology required for its cost effective commercialization.” They have developed a long cycle life battery that is also flexible. The technology has become known as TFB (thin film batteries).
Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems (JEMS) mission is “to develop alternative energy generation technologies to meet tomorrow’s energy needs.” JEMS converts thermal energy to electrical energy using a non-steam process which works by pushing hydrogen ions through two membranes.