What FIRST Means to Me

F.I.R.S.T. stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. What kind of program  is FIRST?

The FIRST program is described its best by its founder, Dean Kamen:

“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

FIRST was Founded in 1989 and it is a fabulous program helping to inspire students minds. The wheels start turning in a young person’s mind when they get interested in the science and technology that is involved in the FIRST program. When a student is interested in this program they are experiencing education and future career choices in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). They also have the hands on experience in each of these areas to build self respect, confidence and brain building skills to take with them on the journey of life.

FIRST has different age levels of programs starting at age 6 to the age 18 (K-12th grades). Each individual, teacher, mentor, coach or volunteer involved with FIRST has a hand in teaching students an experience they will never forget and carry with them throughout life. It’s an experience that’s so rich and positive. FIRST  teaches role modeling and self esteem, self-confidence, developing life and people skills, and leaves the door open to unseen career choices within the STEM fields. These students are our future!

The first stages of FIRST is called Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr.FLL) this is a group for children in Grades K-3 (ages 6-9). This is a beginning program where they learn how research, think, plan ideas out, use their imaginations, and work together in teams while having a wonderful outcome in building their models out of Lego bricks. Teachers, coaches and volunteer adults help guide this young minds in the right directions.

At the grade level of 4-8 (ages 9-14 in the US, Canada, and Mexico) students are challenged in the areas of science and research to plan, develop, build , and learn programming and test their robotics knowledge. They use the MINDSTORMS by Lego technology to show their pride and technology skills in use with local competitions.

FTC is designed for a team of 10 student who plan, program, design, test and get their robot ready  for the competitions. This robot kit is used again each different year the team competes in FTC and uses a variety of different programming languages. The team of 10 students is responsible for the design, build planing, building  of and programming of the robot. They use real life skills and STEM concepts to do so.

First Robotics Competition

Is often referred to as the “varsity sport for the mind” as  it is a combination of sports and STEM all in one. The teams are made up of 25 or more students that are pulling together  to create a robot with teamwork in play. They have to raise money for the starter kit and learn how to use limited resources, funds, parts and unlimited team spirit to put their heads together to come up with a plan, design, build, program, and run their robot to do the specified task.

At  this age (grades 9-12 , ages 14-18) the program is built to use thinking and planning to produce a robot to do the task given out at the kickoff in January, within a 6 week time period. Design, strategy, building, research, programming, teamwork, and team spirit all come together to build a robot that will compete at regional and worldwide competitions against other teams. This is when the FIRST members are so proud to show off the knowledge their teachers, coaches, mentors, and parents have given them as the base for them to grow their own roots!

The results and accomplishments of the students is outstanding. To see how far each team has progressed over their years involved in the FIRST programs is amazing. In competitions as a team and with alliances at the regional tournaments, it’s possible to earn a place in the World Championship. FIRST members can qualify for more than seven million dollars in college scholarships to continue their learning in the STEM fields of study.

What does all of this mean to a FIRST member? It means that we are so excited to be  involved in an amazing outreach program filled with problem solving skills in the STEM fields. FIRST gives us a real hands on chance to learn, experience, and explore all the possibilities in teamwork and problem solving, real life skills that we can use in our future.