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FIRST robotics challenge, STEM robotics, FIRST Raytheon.
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A FIRST mentor encourages a student.

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There’s no shortage of companies, governments and organizations around the world searching for talented workers with a deep knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The demand is providing a clear pathway to rewarding, world-changing and well-paying STEM careers for many young people.

However, some students are missing these incredible opportunities because they haven’t envisioned themselves in STEM or encountered any mentors to show them a pathway for success.

FIRST is a global nonprofit that provides robotics-based programs and mentorship from adult volunteers such as educators and STEM professionals to students ages 4 to 18. FIRST is a mission-based robotics community that aims to get kids excited about STEM and allows them to build these talents, along with critical life skills such as communication and leadership, through team-based robotics competitions.

FIRST has a proven impact in guiding young people into STEM careers, all while having fun and making useful connections.


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Nearly 700,000 students and 320,000 adult mentors, coaches, judges and volunteers participate in the nonprofit community year over year, and the transformational power of FIRST programs was featured in the 2022 Disney+ documentary “More Than Robots.” Students develop problem-solving skills and learn confidence, cooperation, empathy and resilience—skills that will serve them well in their future careers.

Fazlul “Fuzz” Zubair, systems engineering department manager at Raytheon Technologies, an American multinational aerospace and defense conglomerate, mentors FIRST Team 4201, The Vitruvian Bots, in Los Angeles.

Zubair has hired 15 Raytheon Technologies employees from his FIRST team, creating a FIRST-to-work pipeline. Better yet, many of the new employees then give back to FIRST by mentoring their own teams. Zubair’s dedication to mentorship has created a cycle of positivity that continues to grow.

“Here, at FIRST, it’s a sport where everyone can go pro. They can come out of this program, and they can get a good-paying job and contribute positively to society and solve the tough problems that we have,” Zubair told Upworthy.

“Raytheon Technologies understands this, so it supports students in the program and its employees who mentor. Through FIRST, we’ve created a pipeline of people who already know how to collaborate with engineers and when they come into our companies, they have a head start,” Zubair continued.

Wireless communications innovator Qualcomm Incorporated is another multinational company that supports FIRST. It has been hiring FIRST students because of their advanced skill sets since 2006.

“They’re working on robots and learning things like coding and critical thinking, but they also have 21st-century skills like teamwork and the ability to collaborate with students that come from diverse backgrounds. Those are all things that are important in the workplace,” Natalie Dusi, corporate social responsibility manager at Qualcomm Incorporated, told Upworthy.

As employees, FIRST students join the workforce with experience and vital collaboration skills. “They roll up their sleeves and start innovating right away. When FIRST students come into Qualcomm Incorporated, they are confident,” she added.

Zubair says that FIRST students are valuable, in part because they understand that failure is part of learning and innovation.

“Learning through failure is something that’s really hard to teach,” he said. “You must go through that process. I like to tell my students all the time, ‘I’d rather you fail on this robot than a billion-dollar satellite. Learn now, fail often, fail early.’”

For FIRST CEO Chris Moore, the opportunity to gain confidence in STEM is an important and deeply personal issue. When he was in middle school, a teacher dissuaded him from pursuing a career in technology and he believes it had lasting, negative effects on his career. “Even now, as someone with decades of experience leading youth-serving organizations, this STEM inferiority complex has stuck with me, and at times I still doubt my own STEM competency,” he told Upworthy. “The reality is, STEM is achievable and rewarding for everyone, no matter their gender, age, race, economic standing orientation nor any other factor.”

Statistics point to a high demand for STEM workers and a short supply, especially in the United States and especially among women, underserved, and underrepresented groups. FIRST provides young people from any background with the skills they need to succeed in their STEM studies and future careers. Notably, FIRST reached more than 20,300 youth in underserved communities during its 2019 season.

FIRST students are twice as likely to express interest in a STEM career than their peers.

FIRST understands the value of inspiring all students and does so by providing innovation grants to teams from underserved communities and developing strategic alliances with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers and Girls, Inc., and other like-minded organizations.

One of the lasting impacts FIRST has on students is an understanding that no matter who they are or where they come from, they can solve the world’s most pressing issues.

The theme for the 2022 – 2023 season is energy. Students will explore the essential role that energy plays in keeping the world moving forward, the possibilities that different energy sources unlock, and how we can all realize a brighter future through innovative ideas in energy generation, efficiency, and use.

Cooperation, empathy, and resilience are skills that last a lifetime and it’s never too early for a child to enjoy their benefits. Learn more about FIRST programs in your area and how you can become involved!

Go to firstinspires.org to learn more.

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FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

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Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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