Letter: Nature’s Fury Robotics Challenge
Engineers, scientists, and community leaders solve problems that confront us when disaster strikes and we suffer the devastation of wildfires, storms, avalanches, and flooding. On Nov. 2 hundreds of students from the Roaring Fork Valley and other Western Slope communities shared innovative solutions to problems related to Natural Disasters as part of the Nature’s Fury Robotics Challenge.
This worldwide competition is the brainchild of inventor Dean Kamen, the founder of the U.S. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.) His vision is that by encouraging students to take part in these competitions, students will become innovators of the future. Students completed in teamwork games, shared research projects, and participated in technical interviews to show their commitment to the core values of FIRST. Students also took on a robotics challenge that required programming, mechanical design, and problem-solving skills using LEGO robotics systems.
These events cannot function without the support of volunteers who serve as mentors, experts, and judges for the children. Special recognition must go to Scott Messina of Mountain Rescue for his instruction on avalanche safety, engineers Gerald Fielding and Susan Pearson from Pitkin County who managed to get 10-year olds interested in improving city drainpipe design, many contributors from Aspen Ski Company, the U.S. Forest Service, Ute Mountaineer employees, and the parents like Katherine Sand, Jennifer Swanson, and Michael George who have devoted hours.
I must also thank Mike Simmons and Jackie Francis of the Aspen Science Center for volunteering as judges, along with computer programming advocate Steve Kaufman. GSHS Principal Paul Freeman and robotics coach/teacher Matt Jensson also make this happen. Employees of Aspen School District, the Aspen Education Foundation, and the Jim Aresty Foundation have made this tournament possible as well.
Aspen Middle School Robotics Coach
FIRST LEGO League Tournament DIrector
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