Burnham, a teacher with 17 years of experience currently serving in the Allen Texas Independent School District, is the Engineering, Robotics and Automation lead for his school, and its about to become crystal clear why his tone is so upbeat.
Aside from teaching the fundamentals of STEM, he's also one of the school district's FIRST Robotics team coaches, and the machines that he's helped his kids create are something to behold.
Allen, Tex. is a small suburb situated north of Dallas. The school itself is a massive enterprise with some 4,900 kids passing through its halls on a daily basis. While most of the school's students have typical high school ambitions, some 40 to 60 students each year sign up to build a robot fit for the test of the FIRST Robotics competition.
For those who aren't in the STEM know, the FIRST Robotics Competition is one of the premiere events of the applied STEM school year. Some of the country's brightest young engineering minds gather to test whether their robot designs can complete an obstacle and skills course, gathering points as more difficult and niche accomplishments are completed by their creations. What makes the event even more interesting is that every team is given a set of kit parts and constraints for industry standard parts and materials, as well as a set of goals that will need to be accomplished on the FIRST stage—a standardized playing field (as shown below).