Competition Team - Chase Buchanan, Anthony Turk, Kevin Wojcik, Amir Abo-Shaeer

In my book, The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts, I follow one unique high school team in their pursuit of robotics glory. Led by Amir Abo-Shaeer, the first public school teacher to win the MacArthur “Genius” Award, the story highlights his innovative style of instruction, one relevant to teachers of every subject.

When Amir first left a successful career in engineering to become a high school physics teacher, he was frustrated by how he was expected to run his daily lessons. Too much of the focus was on walking his students through the textbook, memorizing functions and equations, in order that they could perform well on this and that standardized text. His students were bored—and he felt they were for good reason.

He knew, much as they knew, that what he was teaching them could just as easily be looked up on Wikipedia or the like. This was a waste of the precious time he had with these students. Since they were a “captive audience” within his classroom, he wanted to give them an experience, an education, that they could never look up online. (more…)

The New Cool by Neal Bascomb

Publishing on March 1, 2011, The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts by Neal Bascomb is the astonishing story of a team of high school seniors and their remarkable mentor and teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer, who come together—not to play a sport or exercise their athletic prowess—but rather to build a machine that will battle in the most heated, sophisticated robotics contest in the world. The FIRST competition, sponsored by genius inventor Dean Kamen, is jumpstarting American innovation for the next generation—and beyond.

The New Cool would make a great faculty read and can help teachers learn to get their students excited about technology and science—a seemingly daunting task that Bascomb brings much-needed aid to.

And who says technology can’t be cool? Earlier this month Kamen and will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas launched the FIRST Robotics Competition 20th anniversary season with the Kickoff of a new robotics team called “LOGO MOTION.”

Check out the full article on the Kickoff here.
Watch the book trailer.
Start reading The New Cool now.