Sunday, May 15, 2011

The New Cool - A Must Read for Science Teachers This Summer

Let me jump straight to the point: this is the best educational book I've read in a long time. Interesting, then, that this book is not even an educational book. The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and The Ultimate Battle of Smarts, by Neal Bascomb, tells the story of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics team from Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. The book chronicles the 2009 Dos Pueblos Engineering academy robotics team, Team 1717, and its leader, Amir Abo-Shaeer, as they work crazy hours, under sometimes crazy conditions and against all odds to compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition.

If you are a science teacher, you must read this book this summer. If you're an administrator, order this book today and make it available (if not mandatory) for your science teachers this summer. Why? The answer is simple. This book proves the lengths kids will go to in order to pursue something that sparks an interest for them. More importantly, this books validates the position that real learning takes place when kids are allowed (encouraged, compelled) to be creative, collaborative problem-solvers.

Not every science class can tackle a monstrous project like the FIRST Robotics Competition but every science classroom can take a proverbial page or two from this book and transform what happens in the classroom. Let me restate: every science classroom, regardless of how many standards are imposed by the powers that be, can adopt some Amir Abo-Shaeer's approach to teaching science.

Congratulations to the Team 1717 D'Penguineers for the incredible run in 2009! Congrats on the book and the exposure for you and your alma mater!

In my next post, I will apply Jane McGonigal's thesis of Reality Is Broken to show you exactly why Team 1717, as featured in , worked as long and as hard as they did for a school activity.

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