Robots: Not Just For Rich Kids

Illegal immigrants can build robots, too.

That’s the message of Spare Parts: Four undocumented teenagers, one ugly robot, and the battle for the American dream.  This new book by Joshua Davis (FSG Originals, 2014) recounts the work of four high school students who, according to a January 10 story in New Scientist, “live in a run-down suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, with barely a legal immigration document between them.”

Despite their unpromising background, they completed in a NASA-sponsored underwater robotics competition, going up against MIT and other academic powerhouses.

The story, first reported by Joshua Davis in a 2004 issue of Wired, is now a book, and will soon be a movie.

For STEM faculty and students looking for ideas and inspiration, there’s a wealth of information about the project and the students’ dedicated teachers:

Here’s the original 2004 Wired Magazine story:

Wired magazine has an interview with the teachers here:

(Here’s a sample of the magazine’s Q and A:

WIRED: What could WIRED readers do to help you?

Lajvardi: Elect school board members who aren’t so focused on test metrics.)

Finally, this is a short story about the upcoming movie: