Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA research and Development Corporation in Manchester, New Hampshire, and inventor of the Segway Human Transporter, has made it a personal mission to shore up the sagging interest of American teens in science and engineering.
In 1992 he founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), running an annual nationwide robotics competition, providing 74,000 high school students with creative motivation and hands-on engineering experience this past year.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is an exciting, multinational competition that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. The program is a life-changing, career-molding experience-and a lot of fun. Our teams came from Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, the U.K., and almost every U.S. state. The competitions are high-tech spectator sporting events, the result of lots of focused brainstorming, real-world teamwork, dedicated mentoring, project timelines, and deadlines. Colleges, universities, corporations, businesses, and individuals provide scholarships to our participants. Involved engineers experience again many of the reasons they chose engineering as a profession, and the companies they work for contribute to the community while they prepare and create their future workforce. The competition shows students that the technological fields hold many opportunities and that the basic concepts of science, math, engineering, and invention are exciting and interesting.
Southern Lehigh School District is presently providing an educational program known for its excellence and forward-looking perspective, which is sensitive to the changing needs of its students. The community, faculty, parents and students have joined together in striving to maintain and enhance that excellence.
Southern Lehigh School District will educate all of our students to maximize their potential and to develop personal tools to become life-long learners and productive members of an ever-changing world.
Our community is located one hour north of Philadelphia, and two hours west of New York, the Lehigh Valley nestles in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. A mixture of urban quality and collegiate excellence, surrounded by rural serenity and beauty, the Valley offers residents a wide range of opportunities and life experiences.
Southern Lehigh School District lies on the southern edge of the Lehigh Valley. Its 48 square miles includes the borough of Coopersburg (population 2,400) and the rural townships of Upper Saucon and Lower Milford. The District, made up of three elementary schools, one intermediate school, one middle school, and one high school, plays a significant role in the community. The schools encourage parents an residents to participate in many diversified ways -- from classroom visitations and open houses to working on community projects. Concerted effort is made by the schools and the community to work closely together to provide children with multifaceted opportunities.
As the community reflects its values in its strong support of quality education for its children, the school district in turn serves the community in providing the vehicle for this educational excellence.
The Southern Lehigh High School first became involved with FIRST in 2002, ten years after the birth of FIRST. Travis Lehman, a technology education teacher at Southern Lehigh, initiated it. At that time, the team was named FRED. Our first robot, Jerry Rigged, was awarded the Xerox Creativity Award for our design during our rookie year at the 2002 Philadelphia Regional. The next year, 2003, the robot Jaws was created. At this point Mr. Lehman could no longer afford the time to run the robotics club, so the responsibility was passed on to one of the volunteer advisors, John Hughes. In 2004, Atlas was built, and in 2005, Nemesis was born. That year our team, Spartechs 834, along with teams 293 and 358, won second place at the FIRST Regional at Philadelphia. In 2006 the chief advisor position was passed on to Robert Gaugler, the new technology education teacher at Southern Lehigh. That year our robot, Monstructor, made it to the quarter finals during the Philadelphia reigionals. During 2007 Jagen was created for the Rack 'n Roll challenge. Along with teams 539, 816, and team 399, the Spartechs once again made it to the finals, placing second for the second time in 3 years.