Sheila Barnes has two goals for Team 322 Flint F.I.R.E. as they prepare for the district competition at Kettering University from March 5-7. Firstly, have fun. Secondly, use these competitions and life experiences to prepare students for college.
“I’m trying to provide experiences and giving them different outlooks by being in this environment,” Barnes said. “This is life experience.”
The 10 active members of the team are from Flint Southwestern, Flint Northwestern and Mott Middle College. Barnes is attempting to complement the enjoyment of building robots with a disciplined workmanlike approach to instill the values necessary for students to attend and succeed in college.
“They have badges so I tell them that this is their job,” Barnes said. “When you get here, you get to work because that’s the real world.”
Barnes’ sentiments are echoed by Kettering Mechanical Engineering student Harrison Ford, who transferred from being mentor on his high school team at Carman-Ainsworth to work with Flint F.I.R.E.
Based on his own experiences, Ford views FIRST as a means to be trained technically and as a way to teach high school students to work as a team - both ideals that have been critical for his own success. Ford is also adamant that FIRST can be the foundation for getting a transformational college education.
“I really want to help kids get to college,” Ford said. “FIRST promotes competition but I truly care about getting these kids to college and helping them get scholarships for college. That’s one of the reasons I changed teams as a mentor because I wanted to help inner city kids in Flint go to college.”
The ambitions Barnes and Ford have for their students are complemented by the groups arrival at the FIRST Robotics Community Center (FRCC) where they have the opportunity to work alongside other teams in preparation for upcoming competitions.
“The difference is that we have other teams that we can communicate with, we can get ideas from other teams and I like that,” Barnes said. “Another advantage of being in this space is the ability to see the field.”
Flint F.I.R.E. is one of five teams permanently housed in the FRCC and Barnes is constantly telling individuals on the team to get to know their neighbors in order to maximize learning opportunities. The collaborative nature of the FRCC is creating new opportunities for each of the teams and individuals and Ms. Barnes is hoping that the results will be greater than the sum of their parts.
“It’s a collaborative thing and hopefully in the end, we will all be working together and all of our robots will be competition ready,” Barnes said. “We all have the same idea but if we can get together and tweak our robots, our Center will be well represented.”
Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Pardeep Toor - firstname.lastname@example.org - (810) 762-9639