The FIRST (“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”) program’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that fosters well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Our Oakville Community FIRST Robotics Teams offers these extra-curricular experiences for young persons from grades 5 to 12 who do not have access to them through their schools. We have a proven successful track record, expanding our programs and membership base, winning competitive awards each season, promoting STEM awareness in the community, and over 95% of our alumni are in post-secondary STEM programs – most at their “first-choice” university. FIRST alumni are also eligible to apply for over $80 million of college scholarships.
We are a registered charity, and all our activities are managed by volunteer adult mentors from a wide range of technical, professional, and educational backgrounds. This coming 2021/22 season will be our 7th year and membership has grown from 33 students from 15 schools in our FIRST year to nearly 100 students from 30 local schools last full season.
The Team is not affiliated with any school board and generates its annual operating revenue of approximately $50,000 from membership fees and donations and in-kind support from local industry.
For the new season starting September 2021 we are planning to offer three programs:
- FIRST LEGO League Challenge (FLL) program will be for students in grades 5 to 8. Friendly competition is at the heart of Challenge, as small teams of up to 8 students engage in research, problem-solving, coding and engineering – building and programming a LEGO robot that navigates the missions of a robot game. As part of Challenge, teams also participate in a research project to identify and solve a relevant real-world problem. The FLL season starts in September and winds down with competitions in December and January.
- FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) combines the excitement of sport with the rigours of science and technology. We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” Under strict rules, limited time and resources, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, hone teamwork skills, and design, build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship. The FRC season’s main activities are from September through to April.
- New this season we are also starting a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) program. FTC teams of up to 15 team members from grades 7 to 12 are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team. Teams raise funds, design, and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards. The FTC season also runs from September through to April.The FTC program differs from the FRC program as it has a smaller team size and assembles its robot from prefabricated parts. In the FRC program members use machine tools to fabricate parts. The FTC robot and the FTC competition field are smaller than those in the FRC program. The FRC team will have several sub-teams such as Design, Programming, Build, Media, Outreach, Awards and while members may participate in multiple sub-teams most tend to have their primary interest in one sub-team. The smaller FTC team will engage in most of the disciplines of the FRC team but with a smaller team size more multi-tasking is required of the members.
More information about these three programs may be found on FIRST’s website.
Our Oakville Community FIRST Robotics team does not have a “permanent” home and for the last 6 years we have been meeting in donated, or rented space in central Oakville and we will do the same for this coming season. Teams typically meet for about 2 hours for two evenings a week. Meetings will start about 6:00 pm for the FLL programs and about 7:00 pm for the FTC and FRC programs. Nearing competition time teams may meet more frequently and at weekends.
Our programs cannot function without the efforts of the volunteer adult mentors, and we require a minimum of two mentors to be present whenever members meet. Several of our mentors are parents of team members. Some mentors have specialized skills that can be helpful in team training, but some are non–engineering mentors who provide invaluable assistance with tasks such as administration, organization, fundraising, promotion, website and publicity, meetings’ supervision, etc. We are also planning some computer coding training for mentors helping with the FLL programs. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or helping as a meeting supervisor, please email email@example.com or submit the Contact Us Form for more information.
Last season’s activities were severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic as we transitioned to mainly online activities. We expect that for the new season starting this September most of our activities will be in-person. We expect all members who are eligible will have received COVID vaccinations and we plan to implement the same health and hygiene procedures that will be used by local schools.
Membership fees for the FLL season will be $200, for the FTC season $300, and for the FRC season $400. Members will also be responsible for any expenses incurred in attending competitions. (Fees will be due in September and payment instructions will be communicated then). Upon request fees may be paid in installments.