Here's something cool: Teamwork ... works. I mean, the red on this map didn't disappear on its own! But the biggest win of all will come when the remaining three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan) are able to join us.
In today’s rapidly changing world, most parents are concerned about what the future looks like for their children. Whether concerning technology, culture, or values, young people today are expected to navigate—and attempt to thrive in—a society that’s far more complicated than that of their parents. It’s one of the reasons why parents are keen to involve their kids in activities that will help them become more resilient, well-rounded and better prepared for life when they enter adulthood.
One such activity is FIRST®, a volunteer-based global robotics community that helps young people discover a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through exciting, multifaceted challenges. FIRST helps kids ages 4 to 18 to build confidence, resilience, cooperation and empathy as they compete and collaborate with one another.
You may have seen the transformative power of FIRST programs featured in the new 2022 Disney+ documentary “More Than Robots.”
More Than Robots | Official Trailer | Disney+www.youtube.com
Through FIRST, students develop skills to help them thrive in changing times while connecting them with skilled mentors from as many as 200 Fortune 500 companies. These connections often lead to job placements in high-paying and rewarding STEM careers.
“If you want your child to be ready for the real world in ways that school and classroom experiences won’t necessarily fully prepare them for, FIRST is the program for you,” Erica Fessia, vice president of global field operations at FIRST, told Upworthy.
A wonderful example of the impact FIRST has on students is Aaron, who lives in Watts, an underserved neighborhood in south Los Angeles. Aaron was a reserved kid until he joined FIRST, where he developed a passion for robotics that pushed him to become a leader of his team, the aptly named TeraWatts.
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, a schoolteacher and TeraWatts mentor, has seen Aaron make tremendous strides over the past two years. “He’s one of the most technologically competent students on our entire team. But I am 500% more proud of his growth as an individual in his confidence and his leadership,” she said, noting it’s the type of growth she rarely sees through traditional educational settings.
Aaron believes he has learned resilience through the program due to its fail-forward approach to engineering. “Normally, I get really frustrated when I can’t solve a problem,” he told Upworthy. “Robotics helped me to calm down instead of getting angry. If you don’t get it right the first time, you just keep trying, trying until you do.”
Problem-solving is an important goal of engineering and FIRST inspires students to stretch the limits of their innovation and imagination to reach their goals. When each annual FIRST season begins, student teams are assigned a sport-like challenge, typically themed around a critical global issue like recycling, transportation or energy, and are asked to build a robot that can compete in that challenge. They are given a kit of materials with limited instructions. It encourages them to experiment and attempt new iterations until the robot works.
When the students hit a roadblock, they can get help from adult mentors with either educational or professional experience in STEM fields. This provides the invaluable experience of working with positive role models who’ve made STEM their life’s work. It’s a big reason why FIRST students are better prepared for STEM careers than those who’ve only studied the subject in school (that is, if they even have access to STEM education in their school).
Afzaa Rahman has been a FIRST student for seven years as a member of the Durham, North Carolina-based Zebracorns. After high school, she hopes to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.
“The Zebracorns have a special place in my heart as they have provided me with a community of individuals who stood by my side, willing to assist, support, encourage and motivate me in my endeavors,” she told Upworthy.
She hopes that being part of FIRST will inspire other girls to do the same. “It’s important that we leave our mark and continue to make meaningful contributions to STEM fields,” she said. “By participating in STEM, today’s girls and women will inspire future generations to do the same until we are no longer a minority.”
Afzaa’s father, Mujib Jinnah, encourages other parents to involve their children in the program, too. “I think other parents should definitely consider having their child participate in FIRST. In addition to STEM learning, FIRST encourages the development of teamwork and soft skills, which are essential qualities to enhance from a young age,” he told Upworthy.
One of the most important goals of FIRST is to recruit women and students from underserved or underrepresented communities into the program to help bridge the gap in STEM participation. This can help uplift individuals and communities by putting their issues directly in the hands of a new generation of problem-solvers.
“When we talk about diversity in technology, we talk about bringing more voices into technology,” Fazlul “Fuzz” Zubair, systems engineering department manager at Raytheon Technologies and mentor of FIRST team The Vitruvian Bots, told Upworthy.
“When young people of all backgrounds learn they can get into technology, they bring the issues they see to the forefront and say, ‘I can solve this with technology.’ That way you don’t just get technology that’s developed for one class of people,” said Zubair. “We need more developers from underserved areas because they understand the issues.”
FIRST robotics challenges inspire competition and cooperation—what it calls Coopertition®. Two teams may be competing alongside one another in a challenge and then later compete against each other. To make this work requires another FIRST value: Gracious Professionalism®, a term coined by the late Dr. Woodie Flowers, a distinguished MIT professor emeritus and a pioneer in hands-on STEM education, including many years spent tirelessly supporting FIRST.
“The ethos of Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism encourages all who participate in the FIRST community to emphasize and respect the value of others and their opinions, including those that might differ and differ strongly from yours,” Fessia said.
Iqbal-Zubair says that, win or lose, the unique nature of the competition builds practical empathy that students won’t learn elsewhere.
“You can be kind to a team and understand what they’re going through in one competition. Then, work against them in the next and be gracious in both situations. That takes a lot of empathy,” she said. “FIRST requires technical empathy, emotional empathy and strategic empathy,” she added.
Keys to thriving in a world where change is happening at a breakneck speed are resilience and flexibility as well as the 21st-century skills of cooperation and empathy. FIRST students are developing those skills while building some pretty amazing robots, too!
FIRST is open to students from the ages of 4 to 18. To learn more about FIRST programs in your area and how to become involved, go to firstinspires.org.
We all know someone who talks too much.
There are some people who live under the illusion that everything they say is deeply interesting and have no problem wasting your time by rambling on and on without a sign of stopping. They’re the relative, neighbor or co-worker who can’t take a hint that the conversation is over.
Of all these people, the co-worker who can’t stop talking may be the most challenging because you see them every day in a professional setting that requires politeness.
There are many reasons that some people talk excessively. Therapist F. Diane Barth writes in Psychology Today that some people talk excessively because they don’t have the ability to process complex auditory signals, so they ramble on without recognizing the subtle cues others are sending.
It may also be a case of someone who thinks they’re the most interesting person in the conversation.
For others, it’s a symptom of a disorder. Michelle C. Brooten-Brooks, a licensed marriage and family therapist, writes that excessive talking can also be a symptom of, among other things, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety.
“Anxiety can cause someone to speak excessively,” Brooten-Brooks writes at Very Well Health. “While many with social anxiety may avoid social interactions, some may inadvertently talk excessively when in social situations out of nervousness and anxiety.”
So what do we do when we're stuck in a situation where someone just keeps talking? A Reddit user by the name of Spritti33 asked for some advice about how to “politely end a conversation with a person who won't stop talking” and received some very practical and funny responses from members of the online forum.
A lot of folks pointed out that it’s not impolite to walk away from a person who is incessantly talking because they are being rude by disrespecting your time. Others shared how, in some cultures, there are ways of shutting down a conversation while allowing both parties to save face.
Here are 19 of the best responses to Spritti33's question, “How does someone politely end a conversation with a person who won't stop talking?”
"In Flanders we have a word for it, 'bon,' and then you say something 'I have work to do,' 'It's time to go home,' 'It's time to get drinks.' And people realize the other person wants to leave without being mean," — ISuckAtRacingGames
"In Ireland we do like a little clap/slap our thigh/clap the person's shoulder and say 'Right! Shur look, I'll let you go...' as if we're being polite and letting the other person off the hook, but actually, it's like get me the fuck out of here haha!" —funky_mugs
"If they keep talking over polite cues, I have found there really isn’t a polite way to exit the conversation," — Binder_Grinder
"This is so true. People that do this don't care whether you're into the conversation or not, they're talking simply because they want to. I've gotten better at just interjecting (even mid-sentence if I've already tried everything else) with, 'I'm sorry, I have to go. (start walking away at this point) It was nice talking to you.' Don't give any excuses or reasons for leaving, just do it otherwise they'll try to talk about your reasons." — PSSaalamader
"As a teacher, I have learned how to interrupt people who do not leave any pauses when they’re speaking: start nodding and verbally agreeing with them, 'Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh…' You can’t interrupt these people, but you can start agreeing while they speak, then raise your voice and say, 'Yeah, wow, excuse me but I must go,'" — Janicegirlbomb2
"Remember that it is them who is being impolite by talking incessantly about things of no interest to their audience," — Orp4mmws99
"Source: am a therapist. What you do is recap their last story and in the same breath add a goodbye.
I.e. 'Sounds like you guys found a bunch of great deals at the mall, that’s awesome! Thanks for meeting with me, you’ll have to tell me more next time we run into each other. It was great to catch up!'" — pikcles-for-fingers
"Just start coughing these days it'll clear a whole room in seconds," — Sinisterpigeon
"People who are like this expect folks to just walk away from them while they are talking because that’s the only way the conversation ends. It’s not rude to them, it’s normal. So, it’s entirely okay to say, 'all right this has been great, see you later,' and then just walk away smiling," — Underlord_Fox
"If you can practice this, start to train one of your eyeballs to slowly drift off whilst the other eye remains locked on theirs. That should do the trick," — The-Zesty-Man
"At 62, I just walk away. My bullshit filter has disappeared," -- Negative_Increase
"You gotta realize that everyone else they talk to just walks away. They’re used to that. They think a conversation is you just talk at someone til they walk away. It’s not weird to them," — DelsmagicFishies
"I don't know why some people are so afraid of this. It is not rude. You don’t need to lie. 'We can speak more other time. Goodbye,' is fine," — Kooky-Housing3049
"On a more serious note, I typically do an 'oh shit' type of face like I've just remembered I had something important scheduled. I say 'Sorry, what time is it? check the time Ah crap, I hate to cut you off but if I don't head out now I'm going to be late for ____.' Then I scurry away like I'm really in a rush. If you're in a situation where you can't straight up leave, I swap 'gotta head out' for 'I told someone I'd call them at [time] and they're waiting on my call' and then make a fake phone call," — teethfairie
"'Wow, you have a lot of opinions about this subject...' and then never stop angling the conversation back to how weird it is that they're still talking," — Ordsmed
"Had a friend who would put his hand gently on your shoulder and kindly say, 'I love you , but I just don't care, good (night/day),'" -- Think-Passage-5522
"While not exactly polite, my Aunt Sophie had a great way of ending a conversation. When the monologue got too much she would nod her head like she was listening and then at the slightest pause she would go, 'The end.' And walk away.
She mostly did it with kids who didn’t realize they were yabbering on about Thundercats too long. (It was me, I was yabbering on about Thundercats too long.)" — theslackjaw727
"Change your stance, instead of facing them head on turn 90° your body language will end the conversation quickly without being rude," — Zedd2087
"Where possible, I've always found it best to tell these people up front that you have somewhere to be 15, 30, 45, etc minutes from now. If that's not realistic, I've found that if you can usually find a gap to say you need to run if you focus on doing only this for 3-5 minutes," — Pretend_Airline2811
Enjoy these humans being awesome and excellent to one another.
Mark your calendars, folks, because today is an Upworthy "10 things that made us smile this week" first.
For the past year, we've been sharing these weekly roundups of joy and delight from around the internet. And inevitably—because they are such obvious sources of joy and delight—animals have featured prominently in these posts. Who can resist a hilariously adorable doggo video, right? I mean, it's an easy win. Smiles for days.
But this week, for the first time, all 10 posts are all about us. Just us humans. People being awesome and excellent to one another. Truly the best of humanity.
Don't worry, I'm 100% sure that our animal friends will make a comeback next week. (In fact, I'll make sure of it.) But the fact that there were too many people being too amazing to squeeze in any cute pets or funny wildlife videos this time around gives me hope. There's a lot of dark stuff happening out there, but there are also beacons of light all around us to remind us that people are all right.
So without further ado, enjoy this week's collection of fabulous humans.
#inclusiveplayground #inclusionmatters #disabilityawareness #mobilityaid #accesabilityforall #gaittrainer #medicalmom #nevergiveup #disabilitytiktok #disabilityaccessability #specialneedsfamily #smobraces #crocodilewalker #MakeASplash
The way her brothers are so excited to play with her on all the equipment and how thrilled she is to be able to enjoy the playground fully. So awesome.
Kim Press of Sailing Adrift Studios does "art drops" where she leaves a piece of handmade pottery someplace she visits, then shares the stories of the people who find them on her website. Imagine the joy of stumbling across one of these in your travels! Read the full story here.
Misha has Down Syndrome and had a hard time understanding why his family had to flee Mariupol when their home was destroyed in the Russian invasion. His mom made up a story about meeting his hero, John Cena, to keep him motivated on their long journey to safety. Cena saw their story and made it actually happen. Such a big heart. Read the full story here.
Grandpas are the best. What a wonderful find.
I'd probably hurt myself trying to dance like they do, but it sure is fun to watch. That slo-mo part? So good.
\u201cWholesome moment in Anaheim \u2764\ufe0f\n\nThis fan caught a baseball and gave it to a young fan.\n\nA few innings later, the young fan was able to return the favor\n\n(via @MLB)\n\nhttps://t.co/zkGkFNZQMu\u201d— Bleacher Report (@Bleacher Report) 1655873713
See? People being excellent to one another. Love to see it.
\u201cYoung professionals/journalists: I am giving away some of my ties! 8 yrs ago I opened up my first paycheck in TV for a whopping $600! I worked 3 jobs just to get by, let alone buy ties for work. If you need a tie, DM me. All I ask is that you pay it forward one day. \n#PhamilyTies\u201d— Tim Pham KREM 2 (@Tim Pham KREM 2) 1647970473
Tim Pham accidentally created his own charity with his massive tie collection, paying his success forward to up-and-coming professionals who need a tie. I mean, "Phamily Ties"? Amazing. Read the full story here.
The way they articulate their compassion for one another. And this: "When I always go in to check on him when he's still asleep, it's gorgeous." OH MY HEART. The brotherly love is too much.
This world desperately misses everything about Mr. Rogers. That is all.
His face. His timing. How much rehearsing did he have to do? I love that people are like this.
Hope that gave you a little jolt of joy and hope for humanity. Come back next week for another roundup of awesome people—and yes, adorable animals as well.
Imagine coming across one of these gorgeous gifts.
Imagine you're hiking out in the red rocks of Moab, Utah, or taking a stroll down the beach in Key West, Florida, when you come across a gorgeous piece of glazed pottery. No one is around, just a beautiful, hand-carved bowl sitting with an envelope next to it that reads:
This bowl was left here for someone to find and keep. If it doesn't speak to you, leave it for someone else to find, or take it and give it to a friend. I only ask that it be enjoyed, and if you like, you can let me know where it ends up. (Contact details inside.)
Kim Press is an artist from Texas who shares her pieces under the name Sailing Adrift Studios. When she travels, she takes a piece with her to leave for a random, unsuspecting person to find. Lucky wanderers in 36 states and two countries have come across Press' pottery "free art drops" and gotten to take home an unexpected artistic treasure from their own travels.
And these aren't any old bowls. Check out how absolutely stunning these pieces are:
Press recently shared a video highlighting some of the pieces she's dropped, and every single one of them would be an incredible gift.
"To say that I am proud of these numbers is an understatement," she wrote. "In my wildest dreams, I could never imagine how much taking a pottery class and playing in mud would change my life…. And it just goes to show that if you travel far enough, eventually you will find yourself."
People who find Press' pottery let her know where the pieces ended up, and half the fun of it is seeing how far they travel. She put a page on her website where she shares the pieces' "found" stories, such as the bowl she left in Santa Monica, California, making its home in Spain, a bowl she left in Tucson finding its way to China and a piece found in Pennsylvania ending up in Mexico. Sometimes she leaves them in hiking spots in the wilderness. Sometimes she drops them in the middle of a city. Some pieces have stayed in the states she dropped them and others have traveled across the country or the world.
People who have found them have shared how much joy their discovery brought them:
"Just wanted to drop you a note to say that I picked up your 'Free Art' in the park in Fairhope during my last day of my Snowbird stay (January and February) in Orange Beach. While I was in Orange Beach, a dear friend fell and broke her hip and I wanted to get her something to take back. When I say your beautiful bowl, I knew it would touch her heart. Thank you so much for your generosity. She absolutely loved it."
"Dear Kim , Today I found a wonderful surprise, we were at Ft. Zach for my grandson's 5th birthday party and found this on our table, my first thought was ..why is this here? Then I read the card and was speechless... How incredibly lucky I am to have such a precious gift. You are an amazing , talented person. Thank you so much , this will be something I will pass on to my grandchildren. I wish you nothing but the best!"
"Found this incredible gem today. It makes me happy how people are so passionate about their gifts and talents that they would want to share it with the world. Thank you."
Some people have even started looking for the pieces when Press does an art drop announcement, alerting friends and family if the drop is near where they live. A woman who found a bowl in Boise, Idaho, wrote:
"My friend follows you and today she shared your profile with our friend group. We all followed your page and on my way home from work she called me and sent me on an adventure. I squealed when I found it. Thank you so much!! Keep on keeping on."
And a group in Lago Vista, Texas, shared:
“Our out of state guests were about to do a polar plunge in our pool when they saw your post and decided to go art drop hunting instead... so exciting!!!”
Everyone who found pieces shared how much gratitude they felt upon finding them.
Thank you, Kim Press, for bringing joy not only to the people who happen upon your artwork, but also to those of us living vicariously through them. (I really need one of those bowls!)