By Sadia Sheikh
Competition can be as daunting as it is rewarding, so why encourage your kids to compete? In an increasing tech and teamwork driven world, competition provides a unique opportunity to acquire both skill sets. Typical robotics competition preparation ranges between 2-4 months, during which kids learn to share, how to work with new members of the team, and respect other ideas. Impact data collected over 10 years by the FIRST Robotics Competition indicates more than 90% improvement in kid’s problem-solving, time management and conflict resolution skills upon completion of the program. Time management, prioritizing and sharing the workload are all essential skills kids learn that can be applied to any field of work. These soft skills, so desired by employers everywhere, are key in making positive and memorable impressions.
By giving kids the chance to work as a member of a team on the development of a product or idea, they learn firsthand the value of patience, as well as losing and winning with dignity. The invaluable friendships they make are based on shared passions and experiences. According to the American Society for Engineering Education, there is a disparity between the communication skills STEM students learn in schools and those that are applicable in industry. Competitions help to bridge this gap by fostering a sense of agency in participants based on perseverance and hands-on application of knowledge. This type of all-encompassing development is a gift that never stops giving!
 2011 FIRST® Tech Challenge? FIRST® Robotics Competition Evaluation and 2013 FIRST® LEGO® REV 1/17 League Evaluation, Brandeis University.
 Donnell J.A., Aller B.M., Alley M., and Kedrowicz A.A., Why industry says that engineering graduates have poor communication skills: What the literature says, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, pp. 13.