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Just a recap from tonight's Summer of Sagan event.
Tonight was the second night and it went very well. Thanks to all for attending!
We watched episodes 3 and 4 of COSMOS and followed the viewings with ice cream and intense discussion about the state of science literacy and science interest in today's modern culture.
There was much differing opinion on these topics, which is fine and good. It's all about getting the conversation moving. One thing everyone agreed on was that Sagan had a unique ability to explain complicated concepts at many different levels for different audiences and that his communication skills remain unmatched as an advocate and public educator of science.
We also decided that as a sub-project of our group we want to create opportunities for reaching out to students in high school and college to connect with science professionals and graduate students who can serve as mentors, friends, guides to help address the problem of falling scientific literacy and interest levels among many students. If anyone is interested in volunteering to assist in devising some goals and action items for this project, please let me know.
If anyone would like to continue this discussion over email, please start a thread on the Google Groups mailing list here: http://groups.google....
As some background research for this idea, I wanted to find out how others have been trying to tackle this issue.
Here is a very interesting interview with legendary inventor Dean Kamen on the Science & the City Podcast named "Inventing Scientists" about the FIRST organization, which organizes robotics competitions in which student teams create robots that compete.
Here is a bit about the purpose of FIRST from this article: (http://media.www.wccv...)
"" FIRST is a program started by entrepreneur Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA research and inventor of a stair-climbing wheel-chair, cheap water-filtration system, bionic arm prosthesis for amputees, and much more. He founded FIRST in 1989 with the goal of creating "a world where science and technology are celebrated, where young people dream of being science and technology stars." ""
In the interview he discusses how President George H.W. Bush, when in attendance at the finals in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome and looking at the huge crowd gathered to watch the robo-competition exclaimed to the crowd, "Wow, it's just like the WWF...but for SMART PEOPLE!"
Here is another blurb about FIRST from their web site:
"FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is a unique varsity sport of the mind designed to help high-school-aged young people discover how interesting and rewarding the life of engineers and researchers can be.
The FIRST Robotics Competition challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard "kit of parts" and a common set of rules. Teams build robots from the parts and enter them in competitions designed by Dean Kamen, Dr. Woodie Flowers, and a committee of engineers and other professionals.
FIRST redefines winning for these students because they are rewarded for excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, gracious professionalism and maturity, and the ability to overcome obstacles. Scoring the most points is a secondary goal. Winning means building partnerships that last."
Perhaps there is a way we can get involved with this organization here in Atlanta somehow.