For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST):
Founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen FIRST was created to address the lack of support and interest in science and technology in society and the media. The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) began in 1992 with only 28 teams. This idea quickly caught on and spread throughout the country, as it grew, FIRST began to follow its unique trademark of “Gracious Professionalism”, with teams assisting each other despite the competitive nature of FRC.
High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real-world engineering” as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
In 1998 FIRST and LEGO® join forces to launch junior robotics program with 200 teams in the pilot. FIRST LEGO League teams (up to 10 members, grades 4-8) research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build, program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, then compete on a table-top playing field.
It all adds up to tons of fun while they learn to apply science, technology, engineering, and math concepts (STEM), plus a big dose of imagination, to solve a problem. Along with their journey, they develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications, and even presentation skills, as they must present their solutions with a dash of creativity to judges. They also practice the Program’s Core Values, which emphasize discovery, teamwork and good sportsmanship.