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Download The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts, by Neal Bascomb Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (150 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Neal Bascomb Narrator: Kirby Heyborn Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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That Monday afternoon, in high school gyms across America, kids were battling for the only glory American culture seems to want to dispense to the young these days: sports glory. But at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, in a gear-cluttered classroom, a different type of “cool” was brewing. A physics teacher with a dream, the first public high-school teacher ever to win a MacArthur Genius Award, had rounded up a band of high IQ students who wanted to put their technical know-how to work. If you asked these brainiacs what the stakes were that first week of their project, they’d have told you it was all about winning a robotics competition, building the ultimate robot and prevailing in a machine-to-machine contest in front of twenty-five thousand screaming fans at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

But for their mentor, Amir Abo-Shaeer, much more hung in the balance.

The fact was, Amir had in mind a different vision for education, one based not on rote learning, on absorbing facts and figures, but on active creation. In his mind’s eye, he saw an even more robust academy within Dos Pueblos that would make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)coolagain, and he knew he was poised on the edge of making that dream a reality. All he needed to get the necessary funding was one flashy win, a triumph that would firmly put his Engineering Academy at Dos Pueblos on the map. He imagined that one day there would be a nation filledwith such academies, and a new popular veneration for STEM, a “new cool” that would return America to its former innovative glory.

It was a dream shared by Dean Kamen, a modern-day inventing wizard, often-called “the Edison of his time,” who’d concocted the very same FIRST Robotics Competition that had lured the kids at Dos Pueblos. Kamen had created FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) nearly twenty years prior. And now, with a participant alumni base approaching a million strong, he felt that awareness was about to hit critical mass.

But before the Dos Pueblos D’Penguineers could do their part in bringing a new cool to America, they’d have to vanquish an intimidating lineup of “super-teams,” high school technology goliaths that hailed from engineering hot spots such as Silicon Valley, Massachusetts’ Route 128 technology corridor, and Michigan’s auto-design belt. Some of these teams were so good that winning wasn’t just hoped for every year, it was expected.

In The New Cool, Neal Bascomb manages to make even those who know little about, or are vaguely suspicious of, technology care passionately about a team of kids questing after a different kind of glory. In these kids’ heartaches and headaches, and yes, high-five triumphs, we glimpse the path not just to a new way of educating our youth but of honoring the crucial skills a society needs to prosper. A new cool.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • “Imagination, ambition and technology collide at an annual high-school robot-building competition…A nail-biting thrill ride for techies and armchair engineers.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “An unabashedly feel-good story.”


Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Josh | 12/29/2013

    " A compelling narrative account of one team's experience with the FIRST robotics competition. The author has found a particularly compelling team and story with a teacher who is trying to add more projects to the typical high school experience. I found the book inspiring and clear evidence that people learn the most from what they DO, not what they SEE. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bill Van Loo | 11/30/2013

    " Excellent book - really inspiring to me as a FIRST Lego League coach. Fast-paced and exciting to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Tyler | 4/4/2013

    " This is a very interesting book about a FIRST robotics team that has all new members that are all seniors so they cannot come back next year. They build an amazing robot under extenuating circumstances. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lori | 2/28/2013

    " Really slow read for me, but interesting. "

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