Neal Bascomb

The State of Education

More instructive evidence that American schools need a rapid, comprehensive reboot if we are to compete in the world economy.

Check out this
NY Times story.

Wes Santee

I’m very sad to hear today of the passing of Wes Santee, the great American miler, and one of the subjects of my book The Perfect Mile. I’ll never forget our first interview, conducted on a walk through a cemetery, where Wes recounted to me of the feeling of absolute serenity he experienced whenever running. I hope he’s running again now.

Here is his obituary in the
New York Times.

My heartfelt condolensces to his family.

Amir Abo-Shaeer - Congratulations

Amir Abo-Shaeer, the focus of The New Cool, wins the MacArthur Genius Award. Much deserved. He's the first public high school teacher to be awarded the fellowship.

Here’s the story in
USA Today.

FIRST wins the Google Award

Google awards FIRST a big grant to continue its pathbreaking work "to change the world" for the better. The Googlesters also gave big to the Khan Academy, a true pioneer in Internet education. More on Khan later...

YouTube Video on the Award

Join My The New Cool Facebook Group

My ambition here, inspired by my new book, is to gather every fan of FIRST, my own readers, and anybody who wants to share their idea of what is new in the cool department. As I wrote in the dedication to my daughters, "Cool is what you make it."

FaceBook Group


Inspiring Video of Team 1717 and Amir Abo-Shaeer

Check this out on Youtube to see Team 1717 in all their glory during the season I covered.

YouTube Video of Amir and Team 1717

The New Cool movie

Top producer Scott Rudin, the force behind movies like No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, has bought the film rights to the story in association with Disney.

Some Amazing Advance Quotes for The New Cool

"Outstanding...THE NEW COOL is a book that will make you feel good about America's ability to innovate solutions to its most pervasive problems. If you're sick of hearing about our impending doom, read this, and meet a generation of kids who could change not just the nation but the world. THE NEW COOL is, on its simplest level, the story of a robotics competition -- but once you realize the immensity of what's at stake, you'll be as nervously anticipatory as the competitors themselves. Neal Bascomb has penned an indelible portrait of a team on a mission that may ultimately be reckoned one of the defining books of the decade." --Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST, Inventor of the Segway PT, Member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and Winner of the National Medal of Technology, the Lemelson-M.I.T. Prize and the Global Humanitarian Action Award

"THE NEW COOL is a prodigious true story and I loved it! It is heartening to know that there are still dedicated teachers like my Miss Riley and kids like my Rocket Boys who take up the challenge of science beneath the American sky. THE NEW COOL is fast-paced, absorbing, and suspenseful. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer and his hard-working students. Even though their chosen field is robotics, they are all true Rocket Boys and Rocket Girls!" --Homer H. Hickam, Jr., author of the #1 New York Times bestseller ROCKET BOYS

"While THE NEW COOL takes the reader inside a season, limns a team and coaching staff, and masterfully recounts a gripping competition, this is anything but your conventional sports book. And not simply because the ‘big game’ is...a curious robotics contest. Like the kids he vividly captures, Neal Bascomb has himself performed a masterful bit of engineering here."
--L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

"Illuminating in its portrait of how the next generation will do its problem-solving…If a space alien passing through the solar system stopped at a bookstore for some reading material before the next jump to hyperdrive, what he'd buy would be THE NEW COOL by Neal Bascomb."  
--Gregg Easterbrook, author of SONIC BOOM and THE PROGRESS PARADOX

"THE NEW COOL is a sparkling and moving account of a hidden subculture in American society.  In an age in which people wring their hands in despair about the dumbing down of popular culture, comes this tale of high-stakes competition, inspiring leaders, and ultimately, hope, provided by young people who work to achieve the impossible.  Neal Bascomb distills a scientific quest into an adventure that reads with all the thrill, passion, and human drama behind a storied run for the Super Bowl." --Neil Shubin, Provost, Field Museum of Natural History; Professor, University of Chicago; and author of YOUR INNER FISH: A JOURNEY INTO THE 3.5-BILLION-YEAR HISTORY OF THE HUMAN BODY

"I love this book. Neal Bascomb cuts through the arcane technical jargon of robotics to reveal an amazing world of smart high-schoolers with passions for math, science, engineering, and computers. The teacher who inspires them also inspires us. With kids like these, there is hope for the world after all."
--Charles Petzold, author of CODE

"Thoroughly enjoyable! THE NEW COOL is not just a fascinating – and dare I say, really cool -- story, it also provides an important lesson. If America is ever going to fix its broken education system and re-energize the economy, we’re going to need more schools, teachers, and kids like those in this book." --P.W. Singer, author of WIRED FOR WAR: THE ROBOTICS REVOLUTION AND CONFLICT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

"THE NEW COOL masterfully involves the reader in the thrills and the agonies experienced by high-school students building a robot for a national competition. Neal Bascomb not only tells their totally engaging story but also captures the essence of what it means to be immersed in a real-life engineering project, complete with its conflicting constraints, limited budgets, and imminent deadlines."