“Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”
Founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a 501c3, not-for-profit, organization based out of Manchester, New Hampshire which designs innovative programs that engages young people in math, science, and technology.
Since its humble beginnings in a high school gym in New Hampshire, FIRST has reached over 150,000+ students from multiple nations. Although many programs through FIRST are modeled as a robotics competition, its main vision is to promote gracious professionalism: the “ethos of FIRST” which not only calls for high quality work, but also encourages respect of individuals and the community.
The impact of FIRST is, without reservation, spectacular.
To learn more about FIRST, its history, and its impact, click here.
FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION (FRC)
FRC is an international robotics competition that is considered to be the varsity sport of the mind or, as former President George Bush Sr. puts it, “it’s like the WWF, but for smart people!”
The FRC challenge, revealed in January, changes every year. Through FRC, 30,000+ high school students are challenged to design, build, wire, and program a robot in six short, rigorous weeks using a standard kit of parts and a common set of rules. Students work alongside adult mentors and real engineers to accomplish this task and, from March through April, they go on to compete against other teams at various FRC regionals throughout the United States (and now, beyond!).
Despite it being a robotics competition, FRC is more about building lasting partnerships than building robots. Through FRC, students learn that winning is not about who scores the most points – winning is the excellence in robot design, in being spirited, showing gracious professionalism, overcoming obstacles, and maturing as leaders.
A “standard” FRC team consists of (1) at least 5 interested students supported by (2) an adult mentor who is supported by a (3) school, (4) parent volunteers, and (5) professional volunteers from the community. Registration for an FRC averages around $6000, which can be raised through corporate sponsorship, national sponsorship, or sponsorship directly from the school or school district.
To start an FRC team, click here.
FIRST TECH CHALLENGE (FTC)
FTC is multinational robotics competition for high school students that serves as the bridge between FLL and FRC. FTC offers students the rigors of an FRC challenge, with annual challenge and infamous build season – but at a more affordable price!
FTC was established in 2005 through a partnership between FIRST and RadioShack. After two years of piloting the program, FTC engaged over 8000 students from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Currently, in the 2008 season, FTC is using a new kit of parts! The new kit features an NXT controller, which allows for students to have more powerful and accessible options.
A “standard” FTC team consists of (1) 10 interested students supported by (2) an adult mentor who is supported by a (3) school, (4) parent volunteers, and (5) professional volunteers from the community. Registration for an FTC averages around $1200, which can be raised through corporate sponsorship, national sponsorship, or sponsorship directly from the school or school district.
To start an FTC team, click here.
FIRST LEGO LEAGUE (FLL)
FLL is an international robotics competition that allows for students, ages 9 through 14, to experience the excitement of math, science, and technology and to begin their early careers as innovators, scientists, and discoverers. FLL began as a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Group in 1998. Over the past 10 years, FLL has engaged 135,000+ students in 45+ countries.
Like FRC, the annual FLL challenge changes each year and is based on issues facing society today. Students participating in FLL are asked not only to build an autonomous robot using LEGO, but also to research and solve real-world problems according to the annual FLL theme and present their research and findings to a panel of judges at various tournaments nationwide.
A “standard” FLL team consists of (1) 10 interested students supported by (2) an adult mentor who is supported by a (3) school, (4) parent volunteers, and (5) professional volunteers from the community. Registration for an FLL averages around $700, which can be raised through corporate sponsorship, national sponsorship, or sponsorship directly from the school or school district.
To start an FLL team, click here.
JUNIOR FIRST LEGO LEAGUE (JFLL)
JFLL, or Jr.FLL, is an opportunity for young engineers, ages 9 and under, to begin developing their skills and an opportunity for parents and teachers to introduce their kids to wonderful world of math, science, and technology.
JFLL, modeled after the FLL program, asks students to research real-world issues according to the annual FLL theme. Students then go on to build a model comprised of LEGO and develop a poster presentation based on their research to showcase their findings.
While students do not go on to “compete,” JFLL teams have special access passes that will allow them to partake in FLL competitions as observers – thus, cultivating their excitement to become a member of an FLL, FTC, or FRC team in the future.
JFLL not only exposes students to real-world issues, but also teaches them the values of teamwork, builds self-esteem, and, through hands-on application, instills an excitement in engineering and design.
A “standard” JFLL team consists of (1) 6 interested students supported by (2) an adult mentor who is supported by (3) parent volunteers. Registration for a JFLL averages around $130 (which includes the fee for an “access pass” to FLL tournaments).
To start a JFLL team, click here.
"At first, I was not sure if I liked it. But after my robot started destroying things, I was like 'cool!' I really like the destruction."
DEVON LEE, Green Machines (FLL)
Students participating in FIRST LEGO League (FLL) are given the opportunity to build and program robots using LEGO. Here, students are pictured at the San Diego LEGO Challenge, an FLL qualifying tournament at the Preuss School each November.
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