FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded by innovative entrepreneur Dean Kamen, who wishes to instill the younger generations with an appreciation for the wonders of science and technology. Since its establishment in New Hampshire in 1989, FIRST has been a helpful non-profit charity organization, providing young teenagers with opportunities to “pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills”. In 1992, FIRST began the FIRST Robotics Competition. Soon after, in 1998, the FIRST Lego League began. In 2006, FIRST began its FIRST Tech Challenge program. All of these programs have met with great success, and have since given thousands of students the motivation to pursue careers in the science and technology sector.
For each of the different FIRST leagues, a new game is released annually. These games each pose new challenges to teams. For high schoolers, FIRST hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), with FRC being comparable to a “varsity” level program and FTC being the “junior varsity” program. CHS Robotics fields teams participating in both these programs.
Overcoming the challenges of the competition takes many days of brainstorming, many seemingly crazy and ridiculous ideas, and hundreds of hours of machining. It is the pride that comes with overcoming these challenges, thinking creatively, performing professionally, and bonding with fellow team members that defines winning in FIRST Competitions.
The FIRST webpage is located at www.usfirst.org.
Jr. FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL)
Designed for young children aged 6-9, participants design small robots using parts from the LEGO Mindstorms kit. Students learn engineering skills, teamwork skills as well as public speaking skills when they present posters to judges.
FIRST LEGO League (FLL)
For children ages 9-12, students solve a problem by designing, building, and programming an autonomous robot. Participants learn to design, test, and build robots using the LEGO Mindstorms kit of parts. Students will also learn teamwork, communication, and collaboration skills as they built their robots.
FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)
Created for high school students ages 14-18, students use TETRIX as well as custom-made parts to create a robot to compete against other teams. Students learn to design, build, and program robots as they compete for awards as well as a spot in the World Championships. Students also build relationships with their communities and improve public speaking and leadership skills.
FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
Also for high school students, the FIRST Robotics Challenge offers high school students to build large robots that they have designed, built, and programmed to compete with teams from around the world. Teams of over 25 students learn to work together, create a team “brand,” and raise funds.