My 14 year old will be participating in the First Lego League in which he will 1) Build and program a small robot to accomplish challenges and 2) investigate a research topic then prepare a presentation. Both activities culminate in a competition with other teams at a regional tournament. This is to build science, engineering and technology skills.
My question is what exact subjects do I categorize this into: obviously science, but which science exactly and since he will be researching and speaking, would it be considered English or Social Studies as well? And how will this look on his transcript?
Thank you for your help.
~Esther in Washington
The advice our good counselors (local homeschooling moms, whose kids have transitions into college, & some college admins) gave us at our local "homeschooling to college conference" was let the transcript speak to their passions. My daughter had a hefty amount of Science classes on her transcript, which was intentional and meant I limited some of the English class I put on the transcript. I dropped Mythology, Historical fiction, modern literature, and several art credits to help her shine as a STEM major. It should be mentioned she had 45 credits total which contained all the traditional core requirements. From our perspective it worked, since she has been admitted into all the colleges she applied to. We're glad she had all the experiences/lessons and writes proficiently, but her transcript is meant to get in college and is not, in fact, the sum of her high school education any more than a public schoolers high transcript is the sum of their lessons learned in those 3-5 years. We used her transcript to show her to be accomplished and focused on certain areas.
My son has taken an interest to the electrical mechanics on our FTC team and so I got him a high school text called "Intro to electronics", and that will be on his transcript. We used his new interest to fuel a passion to learn about that course. That way, he could help his team more by what he knew and will allow me to keep FTC as a club/hobby instead of a class. They do learn A LOT in FLL and FTC, but a course is more organized and without this text, I'm not sure we could call even the great amount of work he does on the team a full course in Electronics. I know people usually go by time spent, but I also think in some subjects there can be a roster of topics for beginners to know, and you should know that stuff in order to have considered your child as passing that "course". Heaven forbid, he say he passed Intro to electronics and not understand something as simple as Ohm's law or the formula for Voltage, which never comes up in our FTC group but did in the course.
Depending on what he did for the group, you might be able to list it as a computer course in programming. My daughter has 1 "Labview programming" credit on her transcripts from her 3 years in FLL and FTC. You use Labview all the way up FIRST so it's a clear, definable course that helped her looked well rounded, I thought, in science- all the cores plus various computer programming courses and forensic science. Since I wanted to show her interest in STEM , I placed it under "Science and technology" on her transcript, which obviously was listed by categories instead of grades.
When your child is a junior, please check out the Washington Aerospace Scholars program! It is hosted by the Museum of Flight and is a great intro to STEM fields, particularly space exploration! This program really helped our oldest hone in on a college major: aerospace engineering. http://www.museumofflight.org/was
Wow, Kathy! That sounds like an awesome program. Hopefully they still have it when my son is a junior (he's 3!). The Museum of Flight is truly an amazing resource to the Pacific Northwest! Thanks for sharing!
Assistant to The HomeScholar
As another mom of a homeschool grad now doing an engineering co-op in his junior year of college, I want to second what Lee advises in this blog post: do ALL the basic sciences plus if you have time! I asked a number of people, and made the decision to skip chemistry when my son was finishing high school, as I didn't think he would need it since his interest is mechanical engineering. If I had know then what I know now, I would have wanted him to get chemistry under his belt in high school, as his first exposure to chemistry was a college level course, and it was extremely difficult for him. Any higher level math or science your son can get under his belt will help him with admission & scholarships, but also with his college studies. Hindsight is 20/20!
When my son participated in FLL, our team did all sorts of things and his love of engineering meant that we did it for several years. We touched all 11 basic subjects each year, so I broke it down by subject as part of another class. When I wrote his transcript, it contained the "traditional" version as well as a narrative portion that gave a bigger picture of his skills and interests. He easily got into the college of his choice (WPI) and is now successfully studying robotics engineering there.
By the way, We were Unschoolers.
Also, if you are interested in finding more information about any of the FIRST robotics programs (they are for ages 6 - 18), please visit http://www.firstwa.org. I am the Senior Mentor for WA and am happy to help you find a team for your child.
Speaking of engineering. Around Valentine's Day every year at the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, the Seattle Chapter of the Civil Engineers put on a popsicle stick bridge competition. High schoolers enter their bridge made only from popsicles sticks and elmer glue. Check out the link to learn about the 2010 competition.
The winning bridge took on close to 1,000 pounds of pressure!!!