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The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His First Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts Paperback – 6 Mar 2012
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"Gripping...Bascomb shows the reader every angle of a classroom no larger than the average storage space, bursting with tensions, emotions, and unparalleled enthusiasm...The New Cool is a tale of triumph both in and outside of the classroom...it gives me hope for the future of education."
--Erin Gruwell, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Freedom Writer's Diary
"Gripping...Bascomb gives us plenty of suspense and pathos...An inspiring homage to the spirit of invention and a genuine sports epic, to boot."
--Publishers Weekly "Outstanding...THE NEW COOL is a book that will make you feel good about America's ability to innovate solutions to its most pervasive problems. If you're sick of hearing about our impending doom, read this, and meet a generation of kids who could change not just the nation but the world. THE NEW COOL is, on its simplest level, the story of a robotics competition -- but once you realize the immensity of what's at stake, you'll be as nervously anticipatory as the competitors themselves. Neal Bascomb has penned an indelible portrait of a team on a mission that may ultimately be reckoned one of the defining books of the decade." --Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST, Inventor of the Segway PT, Member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and Winner of the National Medal of Technology, the Lemelson-M.I.T. Prize and the Global Humanitarian Action Award "THE NEW COOL is a prodigious true story and I loved it! It is heartening to know that there are still dedicated teachers like my Miss Riley and kids like my Rocket Boys who take up the challenge of science beneath the American sky. THE NEW COOL is fast-paced, absorbing, and suspenseful. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer and his hard-working students. Even though their chosen field is robotics, they are all true Rocket Boys and Rocket Girls!" --Homer H. Hickam, Jr., author of the #1 New York Times bestseller ROCKET BOYS
"While THE NEW COOL takes the reader inside a season, limns a team and coaching staff, and masterfully recounts a gripping competition, this is anything but your conventional sports book. And not simply because the 'big game' is...a curious robotics contest. Like the kids he vividly captures, Neal Bascomb has himself performed a masterful bit of engineering here." --L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer, Sports Illustrated "Illuminating in its portrait of how the next generation will do its problem-solving...If a space alien passing through the solar system stopped at a bookstore for some reading material before the next jump to hyperdrive, what he'd buy would be THE NEW COOL by Neal Bascomb." --Gregg Easterbrook, author of SONIC BOOM and THE PROGRESS PARADOX
"THE NEW COOL is a sparkling and moving account of a hidden subculture in American society. In an age in which people wring their hands in despair about the dumbing down of popular culture, comes this tale of high-stakes competition, inspiring leaders, and ultimately, hope, provided by young people who work to achieve the impossible. Neal Bascomb distills a scientific quest into an adventure that reads with all the thrill, passion, and human drama behind a storied run for the Super Bowl." --Neil Shubin, Provost, Field Museum of Natural History; Professor, University of Chicago; and author of YOUR INNER FISH: A JOURNEY INTO THE 3.5-BILLION-YEAR HISTORY OF THE HUMAN BODY
"I love this book. Neal Bascomb cuts through the arcane technical jargon of robotics to reveal an amazing world of smart high-schoolers with passions for math, science, engineering, and computers. The teacher who inspires them also inspires us. With kids like these, there is hope for the world after all." --Charles Petzold, author of CODE "Thoroughly enjoyable! THE NEW COOL is not just a fascinating - and dare I say, really cool -- story, it also provides an important lesson. If America is ever going to fix its broken education system and re-energize the economy, we're going to need more schools, teachers, and kids like those in this book." --P.W. Singer, author of WIRED FOR WAR: THE ROBOTICS REVOLUTION AND CONFLICT IN THE 21ST CENTURY "THE NEW COOL masterfully involves the reader in the thrills and the agonies experienced by high-school students building a robot for a national competition. Neal Bascomb not only tells their totally engaging story but also captures the essence of what it means to be immersed in a real-life engineering project, complete with its conflicting constraints, limited budgets, and imminent deadlines." --Henry Petroski, author of THE ESSENTIAL ENGINEER: WHY SCIENCE ALONE WILL NOT SOLVE OUR GLOBAL PROBLEMS
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
NEAL BASCOMB has published a number of international and national bestsellers, including Higher, The Perfect Mile, Red Mutiny and Hunting Eichmann. His books have been optioned for film, featured in several documentaries and translated in 10 languages. He has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. He and his wife and their two daughters make their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.From the Hardcover edition.
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Bringing in the student perspective as well as trying to bring the over view of FIRST is not easy, the book reads easily and I feel it gives the message those of us that work with FRC, FTC and FLL try to show our students.
I urge anyone who is concerned about where the students of today are going to wind up to find a FRC regional (start at usfirst.org) and see what these students are doing. Walk the pits, Talk to the teams, ask about the design process, how the team is managed, how it's funded. I know you will come away with a small portion of what I feel every week when I work with my team.
However a cautionary comment on those that see FIRST as the new best way to educate students. It's not about education, that's what schools do, it's about inspiring students to care about their future, to see a profession that is in demand, fulfilling and of use to society.
BTW the book makes a great gift for student leaders on a team as well as for teams that have become friends of your team ( that's my plan anyway)
Read this book, then find some FIRST events to attend. You will start to understand.
As an aside, any FIRST team wanting to know what it takes to become a serious competitor would be advised to read this book.
Also this book, for what I have read, has been very well written and I can see it being a good read for those that do not know what FIRST is about but also makes a connection to those who have been involved with FIRST. What I like about this book even more is that it goes over the 2009 season which was also my senior year in high school and my last year of involvement as a student in FRC.
I have not wanted to set it down but I have had to to get some sleep and to read the other not so fun books for my classes.
If you haven't gotten it yet, GET IT! Granted I don't know how it ends but if its at all like the beginning it will be a great read and end fantastic with you jumping out of your seat thinking that you just were involved with what the book is all about.
As I stated above, the story takes place in 2009 Lunacy competition. It is about 3 teams, but mainly focus around the California team of Team 1717, D' Penguineers. It does not only focus on build season and the competition. It gives stories of the students, Amir (the coach), and Dean Kamen (Creator of first and I love that guy). This background story is introduce in the beginning of the story and so is the 2009 Lunacy game, though I believe that if you just watch the Youtube video it would be better.
Characters..I mean people
They may seem like characters, but they are actually people. In fact they exactly capture the diversity of a Robotics teams. There is Gabe Rives-Corbet, a Tae kwondo champion and also the team's programmer, then Turk, the very skill shooter, and many more. Bascomb have a nice list and description of these kids and you'll learn to love them throughout the story.
Now I can relate to that, because the team I was on was like that. I was a programmer who is into martial art and animations, then a very lovable, devious electrician, Carlton. There were many unique "characters" on my team as well, so those who aren't familiar with the robotics team or think these people aren't real or over exaggerated, just don't be so ignorant.
This is where my history gets in the way. At first it, the story is very compelling...well casual. I know the game, so the explanation of the was not a big deal for me and the story had a nice flow to it. There were speed bumps for me, because of several factor:
Let me explain why the Mentors gets me. My team basically have no mentors, we only had our coach and then graduates will drop in once in awhile, but they are no profession like Team 1717's Stan who was in the industry (programming). This annoyed me a little, but it was more like "Damn..lucky" then I got over it.
Tools...they did have better equipment than us and when it got to the point where they decided to build TWO robots that just got me...my team barely can make one robot, we have to recycled spare parts from our last year robot.
BUT because of this emotion that arise from this, this mean the book is doing its job to tell its story.
After I suck it in and continue reading, that's when it happened. I felt their pain and struggle as they struggled in Regional and then National. A constant question in my head was, "Why this team?"
This team not only show the Gracious Professionalism that Dean Kamen spoke of, but also best vividly captures all experience of every team out there. They help rookie teams, they make their own parts (for the most part), they figure out what's wrong with their robot- They even kick out a mentor that wasn't allowing them to work on the robot...their robot break down and they work fast and hard to solve these problems. They fought a plague and many more.... They faced both high-end and low-end team... it's pretty amazing.
There are short chapters about the other two teams and their struggle, which are really good break from Team 1717 story, but you need to pay attention on who's story it is.
Would I recommend this book? Of course. "The New Cool" really is a miss leading titled, but I can't think of anything else to describe FIRST Robotics. It's miss leading, because you expect someone preaching how cool this is and etc..but that's the thing...it's cool because of the struggle and the experience these kids-us kids face in and out competition. Coaches should read it, students, people outside of robotics should too....It's a definitely well put together...Good book.
I won't remember all the details of the book, but I will remember that fact the book capture the FIRST experience...well that's just the beginning..to truly experience FIRST you need to see it yourself. Encourage your school to pick it up and go to competitions..That's all I have to say.
[Not proof read]