The beginning of EMIT was in 1994 , when a group of teachers including, Ms. Brookins, Mrs. Harmon, and Dr. Ham, saw that the State Department had put out a request for some form of superior educational program. “Since we were pretty much already doing this, we wrote this grant and began our planning,” Ms. Brookins says. Since that time, EMIT has grown over the years, eventually turning into what it is today, one of the most successful special educational programs in Florida.
Our mission is to prepare students to enter postsecondary colleges or universities in engineering, by implementing instructional strategies that incorporate technology as a part of our hands-on, rigorous academic (Honors and AP), integrated curriculum, using authentic problem-solving tasks that culminate in a presentation, construction, and defense in all fields of engineering during their four years in EMIT. Our program of study, which are timely and relevant, meet 21st Century Skills and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education goals. EMIT is a place where students are challenged to think, to become active participants in the learning process, and to integrate knowledge with its use, so that every student is successful.
Our team began when our founder, Ms. Peggy Brookins, was on a trip to Washington, attending an educational conference. There were many vendors at this conference including LEGO. They had brought the national FRC winners from the previous year, robot and all. One member from this team approached Ms. Brookins and offered to show her the robot. Ms. Brookins instantly became interested in the FIRST program and it was history in the making.
Upon her return, she presented the idea of starting a FIRST team to the other teachers in the Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology (EMIT). Everyone was in agreement that FIRST would be an excellent opportunity for students to practice real world applications of the things they know and the things they want to learn more about. The FIRST program was the perfect opportunity for our already technologically inspired students to explore the world of science and engineering. Presentation to the other school officials received a similar response. The only thing needed now to begin a team was funding.
After working hard to secure donations and grants it seemed Team 3242 would have a fighting chance. Students’ response to the idea was just as enthusiastic as the program director, and they signed up in satisfying numbers. Mentors from local companies and parents of students involved with the team came out for support.
The first time students were exposed to the actual competition was at a pre-season competition known as TNT, showcasing the 2009 FRC challenge. This event was an excellent introduction to the program for us because we were able to experience a full competition first hand. We then attended a kick-off event hosted by our mentor team for the 2010 season, and began working on our own robot immediately.
In our first season (2009-2010) we were able to build a robot that competed in every round of competition that we were scheduled for. We received a peer award from the Moose Team, our pit neighbors. Our success in the 2010 season inspired the dedicated team that competed in the 2010-2011 season.
In the 2010-2011 season we had high hopes for our robot and our team. At the Florida Regional Competition in Orlando, Florida we won the Entrepreneurship Award as well as the Regional Chairman’s Award, which qualified us to compete in the world competition in St. Louis. We were also awarded the Florida Governor’s Award.
We were very fortunate to be able to attend the world competition last year and we had an amazing experience. We learned a lot more about FIRST and how this program can bring the whole world together. An array of different teams, representing different countries, and different languages came together to celebrate science and technology; it was an inspirational experience that has encouraged us even further to spread the light of FIRST.
Through FIRST we strive to learn not only about robotics, but about ourselves. We practice skills such as teamwork, problem solving, and communication. It is our goal to build self-confidence and leadership in our participants. We rise to any challenge that comes before us as we work beyond building a robot and into bettering our community. Most of all we are working to spread the light of FIRST in our community, our country, and throughout our world.