What is FIRST?

What is FIRST?
FIRST Inspires FTC Photo

It can be a bit confusing to grasp what FIRST is and does because there is a lot going on. People automatically assume that it's Lego robotics, but it is so much more. Yes, robots are at the center of everything, but not everything is about Legos or robots! There are different programs like FTC and FRC that focus on robotics but do not use Lego at all. Furthermore, students compete on more than just the robot.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a global non-profit started in 1989. According to its website, it "prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12)."

Back in high school, I participated in SkillsUSA (known as VICA back in the late 1990s), and I recalled the formative experiences of partnering with fellow students to learn and improve, earning awards at local and state competitions. When we learned about FLL, I knew I wanted our kids to give it a try. Although not the same as SkillsUSA, I wanted them to have the same opportunity to pair with like-minded kids, learn to work together, solve problems, present their ideas, and compete with other teams. My hope being that they would learn valuable skills and have fun. That turned into a great experience for us in 2019.

Students participating in FIRST programs can learn and use skills that interest them. Of course, our teams need students who love engineering, but we also need people who love history, video games, writing, video editing, imagination, project management, presenting, community engagement, and more. Team success depends as much on these skills as on the robot's performance.

FIRST encourages STEAM programming and goes a step further by encouraging what they call coopertition with gracious professionalism - behaviors that anyone will find helpful to future career success.