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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Schweitzer Fellow Spearheads Junior FIRST® LEGO® League Program

By Anna Fiorentino
June 2014 • CoolStuff

Rachel Glikin ’17 is engaging elementary school students with the building blocks of science and engineering that were given to her as a child—LEGOs.

As one of 29 Albert Schweitzer 2014-2015 Fellows from New Hampshire and Vermont, Glikin chose to start a new arm of an existing program from “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST®). Using this program, called Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®), she introduced local 6-to-9 year olds to 20 Dartmouth student coaches who helped them build motorized LEGO® models.

Jr.FLL program

“I was really grateful to be selected as a Schweitzer Fellow because it connected me with people who have a lot of experience starting outreach programs and they are a great support system for overcoming obstacles,” says Glikin.

Glikin and the other local Schweitzer Fellows are part of a larger pool of over 200 Fellows throughout the US and in Gabon—the location of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Schweitzer in 1913. All Fellows develop service projects implemented in collaboration with a community-based organization.

She started the Jr.FLL® program this spring in Marion Cross School in Norwich, Vermont, and next year the program will be brought into White River School in White River Junction, Vermont. Meeting for an hour or two once a week for about eight weeks, in addition to building a LEGO® model, each elementary school team designed a poster to illustrate their research and document their experience.

Years ago, Glikin was on the receiving end of FIRST’s LEGO® projects. She put down her engineering roots as a teen participating in the organization’s sister program, FIRST® Tech Challenge—back when the program was available only to high school students.

“As a teen, the FIRST® competition challenged me and my teammates to work cooperatively, think creatively and encouraged my hard work and dedication,” says Glikin. “I missed being involved in the program. But now, with the organization’s Junior curriculum, I can instill all the same principles as the Tech challenge in 6-to-9 year olds.”

Tags: extra-curricular, leadership, projects, STEM, students

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