Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Vex Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO® League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
The FIRST Robotics Competition, FRC, is an exciting program that team sponsor's, collegiate's and technical professionals work with high school students to demonstrate their solution to a prescribed engineering challenge in a competitive game environment. The program has resulted in life-changing, career-molding experiences for its participants. It is one of the most challenging and rewarding programs for high school students. For more information about the 2007 FRC game, click here
The FIRST Vex Challenge is the newest member to the FIRST family, tying in elements of both the FRC and FLL experiences for high school students. Teams design, build and program miniaturized robots which compete in an environment similar to FRC but on a smaller scale. This program is rapidly becoming popular due to its affordable price range, and is easily integrated into the classroom environment. For more information about FVC, visit the FIRST website linked above, or one of our articles here
FIRST Lego League is the most expansive of the three branches of FIRST with over 9,000 teams, 92,500 students and involving 45 countries around the world. FLL utilizes Lego Mindstorms technology to build and program robots and have them compete in a series of challenge autonomously, without human control. This program allows students to experience hands on technology at a young age. Junior FIRST Lego League presents the opportunity for students 6-9 to begin their education in science and technology. The program is designed to excite children about the wonders of engineering and to capture their inherent curiosity about the world. To read about a FLL competition, click here