Running a FIRST® program can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never been exposed to one before. Personally, I am still new to many aspects of FIRST, and can understand how other newcomers in a coaching or mentoring role must feel. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that all of our coaches receive training on the many facets of robotics, from the construction and programming of the robots to the teamwork and Coopertition® that are at the heart of any competition. On Thursday, November 7, twenty-seven AmeriCorps members from City Year New Hampshire (CYNH) were the beneficiaries of one such training.
City Year is an AmeriCorps program that places young adults in classrooms to work with students on subjects like English and math. They also work with their students on developing their socio-emotional skills and ensuring that they arrive at school on time and ready to learn. Another component of their service is running afterschool programs at their schools. Sometimes, this means plugging in to programs that are run by the school; for City Year New Hampshire, this also means running FIRST® LEGO® League teams at the nine Manchester, NH schools where their members serve.
In order for their students to be adequately prepared for the FIRST LEGO League season, the City Year coaches needed to prepare themselves. In previous years, a FIRST staff member had led these trainings; this year, however, City Year took the lead on developing an all-day, hands-on session for their coaches. With curriculum and robots in hand, all they needed was a location for their training. This is where I came in.
Prior to joining the FIRST VISTA program, I served for two years with City Year New Hampshire. As part of my VISTA service, I act as the liaison between FIRST and CYNH, which affords me the opportunity to support and give back to the organization that has given me so much. Working closely with Nate Olson, CYNH’s Impact Analytics VISTA, I was able to ensure that materials like a FIRST LEGO League CITY SHAPERSM game kit and competition table were available, as well as reserving space within FIRST HQ for the day. From there, I was able to sit back and watch as City Year’s coaches went through all the steps of building, programming their robots, and learning the ins and outs of running FIRST LEGO League teams.
It was an absolute joy to see so many young idealists come together to learn and explore, and I know that their students will have a wonderful FIRST experience this year. I am extremely humbled to be able to be a part of their growth, and to continue the fruitful partnership that FIRST and City Year New Hampshire have created.
Written by Tyler Jones, FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA at FIRST Headquarters in Manchester, NH