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Documentary Airing This Week Goes Inside the FIRST Robotics Competition

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 16, 2009 07:10 AM

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Airing on two WGBH channels this week is a great new documentary about the annual FIRST Robotics Competition called "Gearing Up."

You'll find it enjoyable whether or not you've been exposed to FIRST, the robot-building program founded by New Hampshire inventor Dean Kamen and MIT prof Woodie Flowers, which sneakily teaches kids about design, engineering, and problem-solving. The film follows four very different teams competing in the 2008 season, including one from an all-girls school in Baltimore and another from a correctional facility for teenage boys in Colorado. "Gearing Up" captures much of the energy and enthusiasm that FIRST generates, but I wish its tone was a little less dry and clinical.

You can catch "Gearing Up" on WGBH on November 22nd at 5 PM, and also several times (starting November 19th) on WGBH's World channel. The doc is also available on DVD, for $19.95.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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