The goal of FIRST is to inspire young people of all ages to pursue STEM disciplines as viable career options. They do this by creating a fun and exciting competiion with four different age levels. All the levels work in similar ways. Each season FIRST issues a challenge for students to solve, and using their skills and help from mentors they have to come up with a solution. The different levels of FIRST have different challenges which have to be solved in different ways.
FLL Jr. is for grades K-3. Jr. FLL has a real world challenge that students have to research, and then build a Lego model and poster board to explain.
FIRST Lego League (FLL)
FLL for 4-8. FLL steps up to Lego robotics kits, which students use to build robots that must complete a multitude of challenges across a themed game board.
FTC for 7-12. FTC
uses pre made robotics kits and custom built parts to create a robot that plays a game while being remote controlled by humans.
FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
FRC is the highest level of competition for FIRST, and the one that our team competes in. Each year at the beginning of January, FIRST has an event called kick off. This event is broadcast worldwide and has a range of speakers, including Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers. At the end of kick off, the game animation is shown. This is a short video clip explaining the challenge for the upcoming season. From that moment on teams are given six weeks to design, build, wire, program and test their robots. After the six weeks the robot is sealed in a bag and cannot be touched until competition. District competitions are held from March to early April, and are usually a weekend event. Through the District competitions, points are tallied and they decided the top 60 teams that compete at the District Championships. Teams in the top 30 after District Championships compete at the World Championships.
Building robots to play on the field is only a tiny portion of what FRC is about. All year long teams are dedicated to community outreach, spreading the message of FIRST to anyone who will listen. This is so much a part of FRC that there are awards based on it, awards that can land a team a spot at the World Championships. The Chairman’s Award is the highest honor in FIRST, and it goes to the team at each regional that best exemplifies what a FIRST team should be, and that best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. When a team wins Chairman’s at a District Championships, they are eligible to compete for the Championship Chairman’s Award. One team every year wins this and is added to the FIRST Hall of Fame. Naturally this is what all teams strive towards, although it is certainly not an easy feat.
For more information, visit FIRST‘s website here.