(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

This article is presented in partnership with CA Lottery.

There’s the summer season, the giving season, the season of our joy and the season of the witch. Each season has a reason, but if you’re part of Carson’s California Academy of Mathematics and Science’s Nerd Herd, there’s only one season that really matters and that’s building season.


The Herd

Committed to spreading the message that science and technology can be cool, Team 687, known as the Nerd Herd, competes in Robotics competitions held annually through FIRST Robotics Competition. FRC’s motto, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” is the Herd’s rallying cry, particularly during building season.

The kids, called science geeks by some and the leaders of tomorrow by others, work hard to develop a master robot eligible for competition. In the process they acquire life skills and realize their goals for the future.

The Herd consists of a build team and an administrative team that manages outreach, media and administration. The build team, comprised of five sub-teams, is tasked with handling programming, electrical, drive, mechanical and machining. The school has participated since 2001.


The Brain Games

Referred to by participants as the “Varsity Sport of the Mind,” FIRST programs combine the excitement of fan-filled sporting arenas with science and technology. The foundations of gracious professionalism and cooperation are established and promoted as competitive programs take place around the country and throughout California. They are free and open to the public.

The programs are age and skill-appropriate, beginning with kindergarten Lego Leagues and going through to 12th grade Robotics. The building and competition seasons culminate with three separate robotics programs: the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship and the FIRST Lego League World Festival. Over $18 million dollars in college scholarship money is awarded through the programs each year.

The games redefine the learning experience, helping kids to dig deeper into concepts, themselves and the team. Players wear multiple hats from detective to technician to gamer. But with each of these roles, players are always required to show respect and politeness to everyone they encounter. Ultimately, they are taught to respect the concepts associated with science, engineering and technology.


The Rest Of The Herd 

Elementary, middle and high schools throughout California participate in robotics and Lego Leagues. The teams include the California High School’s Fightin’ Grizzlies Robotics in Danville, Sultana High School’s Vex Robotics Team in Hesperia and Windward School’s Middle School Lego League and Upper School Robotics in Los Angeles. California FRC Regionals for high school students take place in Rancho Mirage, Long Beach, Davis, San Diego and San Jose.


Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.