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.
Founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST is a global community that helps young people discover their passions for STEM through exciting robotics-based challenges. It develops team-based competitions and other innovation-driven programs that engender resilience, cooperation, empathy and problem-solving. The 2022 FIRST season included more than 679,000 students from 110 countries, who were supported by over 320,000 adult mentors, coaches and volunteers. The season recently concluded with the global FIRST Championship, where thousands of teams from around the world came together to celebrate what they had learned.
Students and their robots compete at the FIRST Championshipvia FIRST
“We just have so many problems that we need to solve, and I truly believe that a lot of them need technological solutions,” Fazlul “Fuzz” Zubair told Upworthy. Zubair is the systems engineering department manager at Raytheon Technologies, an American multinational aerospace and defense conglomerate. He mentors FIRST Team 4201: The Vitruvian Bots in Los Angeles.
“Even the problems that don’t appear to be technological in nature will require big data or to make the next big breakthrough in energy, transportation, or our ability to observe our known universe,” said Zubair.
The robotics-based programs that FIRST provides expose students to global challenges and encourages them to do their part to be problem solvers. Annual FIRST seasons are themed around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and are meant to encourage participants’ critical thinking and innovation across a breadth of worldwide issues, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. The Goals, much like the mission of FIRST, are an attempt to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
“These challenges not only help students put their STEM and life skills to the test but get them thinking about how technology can address critical community, national and global problems,” FIRST CEO Chris Moore told Upworthy. “Mentorship is the critical piece that helps students up-level their learning.”
FIRST students develop strategies for addressing complex challenges by working with enthusiastic, experienced mentors who are professionals in STEM fields.
“When STEM gets challenging, mentors are there to collaboratively help students navigate the problem, find solutions, and discover their own resiliency,” said Moore. “Many young people—especially those from underrepresented, underserved, and vulnerable populations—struggle to envision themselves in STEM fields. Mentorship can combat this self-doubt and help more students discover their path and sense of belonging in these careers."
FIRST students develop a solution-based mentality and are armed with problem-solving skills, empowering them to make a direct impact on their communities and the world around them.
FIRST Team 316, the Lunatecs, formed in Carney’s Point, New Jersey, in 1999 as a FIRST Robotics Competition team and later established a nonprofit, the South Jersey Robotics. The SJR team designs, fabricates and donates adaptive devices to improve the lives of physically challenged individuals and the organizations that serve them.
South Jersey Robotics created adaptive gear to allow physically-challenged people to scuba dive.
“We wanted to apply the skills we’ve learned in real-life situations and creating an adaptive device program allowed us to do that,” student Seth Simpkins told Upworthy. Recently, the FIRST team created Jump Assist, an adaptive jump rope that allowed a young boy with congenital amputation to play like the rest of the kids at his school.
FIRST Team Buckets of Ravena, New York, founded the nonprofit We Give Water in partnership with U.K.-based eWaterPay to help address the global problem of clean water accessibility. The nonprofit has raised $55,000 to fund 40 sustainable systems in Gambia, West Africa, that provide clean water access to more than 20,000 people.
“While we might take accessible water for granted here, in other countries water means life. We wanted to help bring life to those in need so they could be able to worry less about where their water was coming from and more on important things, such as school and health,” FIRST Team Buckets member Elizabeth Robertson told Upworthy.
FIRST Team Buckets helped bring sustainable water systems to Gambia.
Raytheon Technologies’ Zubair is confident that the opportunities provided through FIRST are contributing to a new generation of much-needed problem-solvers.
“By creating more people that get excited, that say, ‘This is what I want to do, I want to develop technology,’ we are creating a group of people who are primed to solve our tough problems,” he told Upworthy. Zubair even used his participation in FIRST to create a pipeline of qualified STEM talent for his team: he has hired 15 FIRST alumni to work with him at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, and many of these hires give back in their free time to mentor local teams.
FIRST students supply ample proof that young people don’t have to wait until they graduate high school or get a job in a STEM industry to make a difference. They can start now by picking up the skills they need for success in STEM and life through FIRST.
“Don’t wait for anything,” Robertson said. “If you are given the opportunity to do something amazing, do it. The one thing our team said every time someone asked this question was, you are never too young to change the world. STEM skills are meant to do good.”
Simpkins agrees: “I say you don’t have to wait. In fact, waiting is the worst thing you can do. Be open to new experiences and believe in yourself.”To learn more about FIRST and to get involved, go to firstinspires.org.
It's a problem a lot of couples face.
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.”
“We're both pretty good-sized humans and it just wasn't really working when she was in her third trimester, and I also have sleep apnea, which is very sexy for the ladies out there, I'm sure,” Carson told People at the time. “She couldn't get comfortable, so we were like a commercial you would see, kicking each other and just not sleeping.
“We woke up and we just shook hands like, ‘I love you, but it's time to sleep divorce. It'll be the best thing for all of us,’” he added.
The Dalys’ admission was brave, being that a lot of people associate a couple’s intimacy with their ability to share a bed together. It was probably also a relief to countless couples who feel like they’re the only ones struggling to sleep together.
Upworthy’s Heather Wake described the stress that co-sleeping put on her relationship in a revealing article earlier this year.
\u201cCould a "sleep divorce" save your relationship?\n\n@DrOz joins us to share how the growing trend can actually help keep the love alive.\u201d— TODAY (@TODAY) 1573133783
A sleep divorce may be working for the Dalys, but is it right for everyone?
Wendy M. Troxel Ph.D., a behavioral and social scientist known for her work on sleep and health, believes that couples like the Dalys do right by putting their relationship first.
“Here’s what the science actually tells us about the costs and benefits of sleeping together or apart. When sleep is measured objectively, people actually sleep worse with a partner. In fact, if you sleep with someone who snores, you can blame them for up to 50 percent of your sleep disruptions,” she wrote for TED Ideas.
Troxel points out that even when people suffer from sleep deprivation due to their partner, they still say they prefer sleeping with them versus spending the night alone. She ascribed this opinion to people taking on societal expectations instead of looking at their relationship objectively. “This suggests that our social brain is prioritizing our need for closeness and security at night—even when it comes at a cost to our sleep,” she wrote for TED Ideas.
The Dalys’ admission and Troxel’s research suggest that, in the end, the most important thing is for both partners to get a good night’s sleep, whether that means sleeping in separate beds or in separate rooms. “Just as sleeping together doesn’t guarantee a successful relationship—if only it were that easy!—sleeping apart doesn’t doom you to an unsuccessful one,” Troxel writes.
Pexels This article originally appeared on 11.03.16
Stressed? Of course you are. Luckily for you, and the entire U.S. population, scientists believe they may have identified the most relaxing song in the world.
Music has forever been associated with bringing about relaxation, happiness, and serenity — whether it's a Gregorian chant or some Enya accompanied by a glass of merlot.
Neuroscientists in the United Kingdom think they have found the one song that relieves stress and soothes our souls more than any other.
Mindlab International, a market research firm, conducted a study a few years ago in which participants completed difficult (and possibly stressful) puzzles while their brain activity was monitored. To study its effect, music was played while they completed the puzzles.
One song stood out above the rest. "Weightless" by Marconi Union (listen below), an English ambient music band, induced a 65% reduction in stress among participants, according to Inc. And DailyMail.com reported that the song was 11% more effective than most other songs — by such musicians as Adele and Coldplay — in reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing speed.
The 2011 song was created by the band, along with the British Academy of Sound Therapy, to do just that — relax listeners.
If you prefer something with lyrics, try Enya's "Watermark" or "Pure Shores" by All Saints, which were also proven to be relaxing,
Music therapy is considered to be a natural therapy important in alleviating stress. Because stress is an important cause of other deadly illness, fighting it is key to maintaining good health. Numerous studies have shown how damaging stress can be to our bodies and our brain. So don't let it get out of control. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.
Finally, they get to play!
Here at Upworthy we look for stories that will make you smile and warm your heart and, let’s face it, we could all use a little help in the smile department these days. When we ran across this ridiculously sweet story on The Dodo about a golden retriever and his little human sister, we simply had to share it with you. Taco is a 3-year-old golden retriever who has been lovingly waiting for his new baby sister, Vanora, to be able to play with him, and the day has finally come.
Claudia Hughes is the proud mom of the furry pup and his squishy human sibling. She told The Dodo that Taco has been smitten with Vanora since she came home from the hospital. “When we would lay her down on the floor or our bed, Taco would just lay down next to her,” Hughes said. That’s one attentive pup. Pet parents know there’s nothing more comforting than your fur baby looking out for your human baby.
Hughes told The Dodo that the pooch would even get up for late-night feedings. Now that’s just beyond sweet. It’s no wonder the pup was itching for his playmate to get big enough to actually play with, and his reaction to his doggy dreams coming true is pure joy. The video of Taco seeing his toddler sibling taking some of her first steps has amassed more than 2 million likes on TikTok. Finally his sister can run around with him! Finally he can teach her the fun of having a dog for a big brother. Finally he gets to play! At least, that’s what I think he was thinking from his excited reaction.
And how do we know dogs are excited? Well, they get the zoomies, and if you’ve never been able to witness the absolute unadulterated joy of the zoomies, just check out his reaction in the video. If he could talk he would have probably screamed “I’m so excited!!!” with more explanation points than allowed by my editor.
It’s fun having each other 🐾👶🏻. #dogsandbabies #goldensandbabies #babiesoftiktok #dogsoftiktokviral #SmoothLikeNitroPepsi
According to Hughes, Taco first started getting excited when he saw Vanora take steps in her walker, and more so when he saw her pushing the walker. But his excitement went off the charts when she could actually take steps unassisted. Don’t worry though, he was sure to keep his distance so as not to knock her down. He’s such a good doggy brother. Hughes told The Dodo, “We have shown Vanora that we hug Taco, we pet him gently and we give him kisses on his head.” She went on to say, “But if we get mad at him, we don’t hit him.”
It looks like both Taco and Vanora have learned important lessons in kindness. Soon Vanora will be the one cheering and praising Taco when he’s a good boy, but until then, we here at Upworthy want to tell Taco that he’s the goodest boy and he deserves all of the head pats. Good boy, Taco!