Founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technologies) is the leading nonprofit STEM-engagement program for youth worldwide, not only inspiring young people’s interest in STEM-related careers, but also imbuing them with skills essential in the workplace through the values of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition. With its four different youth programs spanning kindergarten to Grade 12, FIRST is has a far reach, inspiring young people of all ages.

While robots are very interesting and a big part of all of its programs, FIRST is much more than just about robots.FIRST encourages a philosophy known as Gracious Professionalism, promoting hard work, respect, and the value of others. A second value of FIRST, Coopertition, encourages not only respect and kindness towards opponents, but also cooperation and assistance. Through these values, students who participate in FIRST learn skills and values essential to most any work place.


There are four robotics competitions associated with FIRST, each designed for students of different grade levels and resources. Each competition aims to inspire students in various STEM fields, and to encourage the philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition.

FIRST Lego League Jr. (FLL JR.)

Designed for kids ages 6 to 10.

An introductory program to STEM that appeals to kids through LEGO and challenges them to construct models and conduct small projects related to a specific theme.

FIRST Lego League (FLL)

Designed for kids in grades 4 through 8.

Kids are challenged to build a fully autonomous LEGO Mindstorms robot and to conduct a research project regarding a specific real-world issue.

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)

Designed for kids  in grades 7 through 12.

Challenges students to design, build, and program robots in a 10 week period to compete in a floor-based game. This competition creates a low-cost and accessible opportunity for students to explore the fields of STEM.

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)

Designed for high-school aged students.

Challenges students to design, build, and program game-playing robots weighing up to 120 pounds in a six-week period. This is the competition our team participates in.