What is Dream FIRST?
Dream FIRST is a science literacy initiative for children ages 3-10 developed by FRC Team 178, The Enforcers from Farmington High School in Farmington, CT. Dream FIRST’s objective is to cultivate children’s interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields from a very young age. Our team believes that by training the kids from a young age, we can spark an interest in science that lasts a lifetime. The program centers upon the adventures of Gizmo, a lovable robot, along with his two human friends, Euki and Oliver, as they strive to achieve their dreams of understanding science and technology. Their story is told in the book Meet Gizmo: The Start of a Journey, published in 2006, and will be continued in future installments.
How Did It Start?
In 2004, The Enforcers and Otis expanded their partnership with mentors from different sponsors. In addition to constructing robotics, Team 178 and Otis took on the task of generating awareness of science and technology in the minds of young children. As a result, the Dream FIRST initiative was born.
We have designed science and technology activities to complement the ideas in the children’s book. These activities revolve around the six main simple machines: inclined plane, wheel and axle, lever, pulley, screw, and wedge. For example, we have a ramp experiment that teaches children about the benefits of using a ramp to reduce the amount of force exerted on a heavy object. Other activities include using LEGO® Simple Machines and VEX robots in order to increase the children’s excitement in science and technology. Since Dream FIRST was started, these activities have been refined and expanded. We have tested them with children in various settings such as elementary schools, local libraries, Head Start programs, and FIRST events. Our team tries to hold a Dream FIRST event at every competition to entertain the children with useful activities that aid them in their understanding of science concepts. To this date, Dream FIRST has affected over 3,000 children in the United States, Canada, and Jordan.