The FIRST program: a means of boosting techno-smart kids, launched 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen. The program highlight: a challenge to design robots from scratch, with head-on competitions in stadiums nationwide. With 250,000 annual competitors, tons of alumni, and interest from film producer Scott Rubin (he's already bought the rights), no wonder best-selling author Bascomb went after this topic. For communities with strong sci-tech interests.

Bascomb relates the story of MacArthur Genius Award-winning physics teacher Amir Abo-Shaeer from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California, who envisioned a robust academy for high I.Q. students who wanted to put their technical know-how to work.