FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that uses a sports-like competition atmosphere to entice young people to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Dean Kamen is an inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology. His passion and determination to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology are the cornerstones of FIRST.
FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
FIRST offers four programs for children in grades K-12:
In the FIRST Robotics Competition, under strict rules, limited resources, and the guidance of trained engineers, teams of high school students have only six weeks to build, wire, and program robots to perform challenging tasks against a field of competitors. They must also raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and perform community outreach.
Each school year, teams are formed in the fall. The FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff in early January starts the six-week "build" season. Competitions take place in March and April. The FIRST Robotics Competition Regional events are typically held in university arenas. They involve 40 to 70 teams cheered by thousands of fans over three days. District events are smaller, played in high school gyms, with ~35 teams over two days A championship event with the 600 best teams ends the season. Referees oversee the competition, and judges evaluate teams to present awards for design, technology, sportsmanship and commitment to FIRST. The Chairman’s Award is FIRST’s highest honor and recognizes a team that exemplifies the values of FIRST both in competition and in community outreach.
“…It’s like life. You never have enough information. You never have enough time. The kit of materials may be what you have in the warehouse. There are always people doing competing things and you must have a strategy. We’ve created a microcosm of the real engineering experience.”
-Woody Flowers, FIRST National Advisor