Monday, March 15, 2010

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

The other night my wife and I attended a PTA fundraiser for our older daughter's elementary school, and during the course of things I got to talking to the father of one of our daughter's best friends. He's a fifth-grade teacher in our school system with a passion for math and science who runs an after-school Lego robotics club, and who has been teaching long enough that his first class of students is graduating high school this year. One of them, he said, recently visited her old grade school and told him that he was her favorite teacher and that thanks to him she was planning on studying physics or chemistry in college. Part of what she remembered so fondly was the Lego robotics club.

How did my daughter's friend's father come to start a Lego robotics club in the first place? He'd always been interested in robotics, but it was only a few years ago that he heard about a robotics-in-education conference. His principal scraped together the money for him to attend, and while he was there he met everyone from fellow elementary-school teachers to master's-level professors -- all working on the educational applications of robotics. When he got back to his school, he asked his PTA to fund a club. And that was that.

My point is this: Never doubt that what you do makes a difference. People get introduced to other people, and learn new ideas, and become inspired to do things that change other people's lives -- all at your meetings. What's better than that?

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