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Author's profile photo John Astill

Young Rewired State NYC wants to inspire you to Mentor the future

Those that know me will be familiar with my passion for introducing STEM to our newer generations. I have been fortunate enough to have coached the amazing SAP Droids First Lego League team for nearly 3 years now. They continue to inspire and amaze me with their imagination and energy.


The team really took their game to the next level in 2012 when they decided that they wanted to compete at Demo Jam in Las Vegas. They took their Food Agent mobile application that was running on PHP/MySQL and converted it to run on HANA Cloud.

When I started the team it was simply to help the local elementary school with an after school STEM program that had the cost of equipment covered for them. Spending a few hours a week with kids from the neighbourhood seemed like a small investment on my side if I could help the local school. My own boys were too young to be involved but enjoyed hanging out with the team and watching them build robots.


I had no idea what a profound effect it would have on me. I watched the team grow over the 6 months of the program, from small groups of friends into a true team that worked for each other. The first event was a Maryland qualifier for First Lego League. The team were a rookie team and we did not know what to expect. I simply hoped that they would enjoy themselves and not feel under pressure after so much preparation. Part of the event has the team compete live against another team with a large crowd watching. The Droids had everything ready, in practice sessions they would complete most of our objectives but not all. I will never forget standing at the side of the hall at UMBC and watching them setup and run the robot. The missions ran smoother than before and one by one each of them completed their missions until it was finally Sams turn, this was the most difficult of the missions, all I could think was please let them all complete their missions, I wanted to see them all succeed. The robot cleared the turn light sensor on and … I exploded with joy. At that point I knew the robot was on track and every member of the team would complete their missions. I had no idea that I too would be feel such a strong surge of emotions and feel so inspired by them.

I now wanted to continue helping our future Engineer and Scientists and be amazed by them. The Droids are moving forward and looking to publish their app on Apple App store in the near future.

I was aware that in the UK the Young Rewired State Events were taking place and had followed the events at YRS Birmingham through fellow SAP Mentor DJ Adams. I contacted the organizers asking if they planned any events in the USA, and sure enough a year later we have Young Rewired State New York City in place. Once the registration opened I signed up as a mentor.

Over two days, teens 14-18 will level up their coding skills, collaborate with one another and professional mentors, and use open government data to build digital projects to solve real New York City problems.

If you have never worked an event like this but are free and around NYC on June 29th and 30th I can highly recommend it and would encourage you to also be a YRS Mentor.

The First Lego League taught me a very important lesson, listen to what the kids want to create and help them create it and you will be amazed and inspired!

Young Rewired State

Who is involved? Young Rewired State, Mozilla(Hive), Museum of Moving Image, and supported by SAP and the NYC Trust.

What is it all about? We are expecting 50 kids and 20 mentors to turn up at MoMI, for a weekend of coding, camaraderie, and friendly competition. We encourage anyone and everyone with an interest in coding and open data to get involved.

Fun Facts:

1. This is the first event YRS has executed in the USA

2. We have a wide variety of skill sets ranging from all levels of programming, to presentation skills, as well as team work and data mining

YRSNYC poster.png

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      Author's profile photo Graham Robinson
      Graham Robinson

      The word "mentor" seems somewhat inadequate for you John.

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Totally agree, Graham. 

      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt

      Would like to see this get even more visability.  Seems a shame to have this blog live in your personal space when it should be highlighted in other areas: CSR,Design Thinking, Sustainability, Technology, Innovation.  With kind permission I'll add some tags.  John, you are a personal hero.  Love the work you do and champion! Multi-generational work is a shared interest. Kudos.

      Author's profile photo John Astill
      John Astill
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Marilyn,

      I have moved it to events. Please add whatever tags you think make sense. The goal is to attract more people to the event so all help is appreciated.