Houston is, of course, home to NASA, a champion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And this month, the Space City furthers its standing as an innovation hub, playing host to the For Inspiration & Recognition of Technology (FIRST) Championship. The technology and robotics competition takes place among more than 40,000 K-12 students, from 40-plus countries around the world, on April 19-22. Started by Dean Kamen — the kooky innovator behind, among other inventions, the Segway and Coca-Cola’s new space-age soda-fountain machines — in 1989 in an effort to increase the number of young people who pursued careers in the science-related fields, the FIRST competitions take place year-round, culminating in a scholarship awarding championship every April. At the Houston event — which is open to the public and includes activities and competitions at the George R. Brown, the Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park — teams of aspiring engineers work together to create and show off their robots, which then compete in games of varying degrees of coordination and skill. Prizes are distributed based on categories like creativity and safety. Participants also mingle with hundreds of execs from companies like Google, Boeing, General Electric and — naturally — NASA.
Even in a pandemic, the arts culture of Houston never stops — from movie screenings in the wee hours of the morning, to public art installations that light up the night. Seven photographers capture the everyday wonders of art in the most resilient city in America, over the course of 24 hours on Saturday, Oct. 3.
The performing arts have been brought to a screeching halt as a result of the ongoing pandemic. The Houston Brass Quintet, a local nonprofit music troupe, met the moment head-on with outdoor pop-up concerts around the city. Their perseverance has helped keep their heads above water, and the group is gearing up for a holiday season unlike any other.
The chamber group focuses on diverse music genres, prioritizes collaboration in the arts community, and gives back to the community through educational and service programs. Founding member and managing director Sarah Perkins beams as she discusses the service component of the quintet. "The group was originally formed as a one-off for a party," she says. "A gentleman approached me at the party and asked if I was interested in putting a chamber group together, and he gave us $5,000 to get started. With the seed money we got, we decided to make our group a nonprofit, because the mission aspect was important to me — to have a service component involved, with particular emphasis on the Alzheimer's and dementia community."