“It’s More Than Robots”
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 Cooperation. With its four different youth programs spanning kindergarten to grade 12, FIRST has a far reach, inspiring young people of school age.
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 in the face of fierce competition. Through these values, students who participate in FIRST learn skills and values essential to most any work place.
To see a unique view of the amazing FRC program, check out the 2022 documentary film More Than Robots, streaming on DISNEY+ (subscription required).
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 practice in the philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition.
Students can begin hands on STEM learning and exploration at a very young age with the various divisions of the FIRST LEGO League — Discover (PreK-grade 1), Explore (grades 2-4) and Challenge (grades 4-8).
Designed for kids in grades 7 through 12, FTC 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.
Designed for high school-aged students, FRC challenges students to design, build, and program game-playing robots weighing up to 120 pounds in a six-week period. This is the competition the Jackson Robotics Team participates in.