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FIRST robotics challenge, STEM robotics, FIRST Raytheon.
via FIRST

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.


FIRST Championshipvia FIRST

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.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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