What is FIRST?
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational non-profit organization, that aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering, and technology as cool for kids as sports are today. FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway Human Transporter. FIRST was founded on partnerships with businesses, educational institutions and government. The key to FIRST's success is the work of over 66,000 volunteer mentors, through which FIRST programs engaged over 248,000 young people during the last year. FIRST programs are growing rapidly in the United States and Canada, and demand is accelerating in other countries.
FIRST runs several programs for students ranging from elementary to high school. One of these is the FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC. FIRST Robotics competition provides students with the unique opportunity to learn about and gain experience in the areas of science and engineering. Each year, FIRST releases a brand new challenge. Teams have six weeks to design, prototype and build a robot that will accomplish the set tasks. After the six weeks are up, teams must ship their robots to competitions. At competitions, teams play in three-on-three matches to score points and win awards. However, there is much more to FRC than robots. Teams learn about gracious professionalism, good sportsmanship, and other important values. Many teams volunteer to help make their communities a better place. Overall, FRC impacts not only students, but entire communities.
Another program run by FIRST is FIRST Lego League, aimed at students from 6th to 8th grade. FIRST Lego League is a kind of introductory program to FIRST. Students work with small Lego robots instead of large machines, but the values taught by FLL are the same. Students receive a challenge and are given several weeks to create a Lego robot that will accomplish specific mission tasks. Unlike FRC, the robots do not compete head to head. Instead, two teams play on adjacent fields simultaneously. Often, the teams must work together to complete at least one of the missions. As with FRC, there is more to FLL than just the competition. A lot of attention is also placed on the research project. In the research project, teams investigate several areas of science relating to the current game. At the same time, they also improve their community.
FIRST offers several other programs to students of various ages. The FIRST Tech Challenge is similar to FRC, but uses a more affordable robotics kit to allow the program to reach even more students. Junior FLL is a program aimed at students from ages six to nine, and is designed to spark interest in science and technology. Even adults can get involved in FIRST, mentoring teams or volunteering at events.
To learn more about FIRST, visit their web site at http://www.usfirst.org