Technology has had a huge influence on my life. Perhaps most personally, my ability to move around is enabled by the wheelchair I use, which was invented by serial innovator Dean Kamen. But Dean isn’t just a creative tinkerer. He is also a technology evangelist and the founder of FIRST Robotics. I love attending the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Championships both because I am inspired by the children’s enthusiasm and because it fosters a creative spirit that can lead to more amazing inventions.
In Congress, I am working to promote the type of learning that FIRST encourages — STEAM education. “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Mathematics) is an educational approach that uses project-based teaching to encourage creative applications of science and technology. FIRST LEGO League is the perfect embodiment of the STEAM philosophy, and the robots I observed are a testament to the power of STEAM learning.
As a member of the Congressional STEAM and Career and Technical Education Caucuses, I’ve introduced legislation to encourage STEAM education inside and outside of the classroom because it helps students develop a passion for learning and innovation. It’s an important investment in our future. Some of the most popular inventions today, like the iPhone or the Segway (another Dean Kamen invention) owe their origins to STEAM principles- the coupling of science and design in new ways.
The challenge for this year’s competition was to improve the way people find, transport, use or dispose of water. Millions of people around the globe are faced with water scarcity, and this type of project-based educational experience can drive creative thinking to address this environmental and human-rights issue.
We are relying on the participants of this FIRST Robotics League to be the innovative leaders of the future. The amazing robots the children built exemplify the first step in a long life full of STEAM learning. I look forward to seeing the awesome accomplishments these students achieve in the future.