Combining the excitement of sports with the rigors 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 resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and 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. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship.
The positive impact on FIRST Robotics Competition participants is gratifying and well documented. Over 88% have more interest in doing well in school and 92% are more interested in attending college. View the impact resources.
FIRST Robotics Competition teams get to:
The really cool thing about FIRST Robotics Competition is…all skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical or non-technical. Read more about team basics, time frame, commitment, and skills required.
In general, FIRST Robotics Competition operates during the school year. Teams form and register in the fall. However, the “official season” begins early in January when the season’s Challenge is announced at a Kickoff ceremony. Teams are then given six weeks to create their robot. District and Regional competition events start in late February and continue through April. Teams that qualify are invited to FIRST Championship at the end of April. There are also many off-season events in which teams can participate, strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun!
As a Mentor or adult Volunteer, you should be meeting with your team at least several times per week during the build and competition season (January – April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you can devote to the program.
As a team member, the same applies. Be prepared to meet at least several times per week from January through April. Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become at your task(s). During build season, the pressure is on, so be prepared to also spend some nights and weekends helping your team.
The really cool thing about FIRST Robotics Competition is…all skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical or non-technical. Teams need all kinds of skills to succeed, so what are you good at? We have a job for you. And we’ll probably teach you a few new ones while you’re with us.
Student team members are encouraged to bring any skills they already have, like programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography, and many more. FIRST Robotics Competition welcomes every student, with or without special skills. Like our Mentors say, “This is the only sport where if you show up, you can play.”
The FIRST Robotics Competition gives high school students and their adult mentors the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem. Challenged to design and build a robot using a standard “kit of parts” and within a common set of rules to play a sophisticated field game − all in just six weeks− brings out the best in students and adults alike. The robot “game” changes every season and is always exciting.
FIRST redefines “winning” by rewarding teams for achievements not necessarily gained on the field of play − excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, Gracious Professionalism®, and the ability to overcome obstacles are all recognized with awards. Winning is always secondary to the quality of the overall experience.
If you would like to start a FIRST Robotics Competition team in your area, we welcome you and promise to provide you with all the support, ideas, and encouragement you need to succeed!
Remember: NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED AND YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!
First, familiarize yourself with the FIRST Robotics Competition. Then locate your region’s Regional Director or FIRST Senior Mentor. These people know the FIRST teams, participating schools, and FIRST-friendly businesses in your area. He or she can help you form a plan for getting your team funded, organized, and in touch with other teams in the area.
Each team needs at least one adult Mentor with technical expertise willing and motivated to “coach” the team through the build and competition season (and beyond). Also highly recommended are two or more other adults to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, and other tasks.
Registering your team’s information makes you a part of the huge FIRST Robotics Competition community. You’ll begin receiving communications from FIRST, along with a temporary team number in preparation for event registration in the fall. Create a team roster link to submit with your registration. (Please note that completing this stage of the process does not commit you to becoming a team.)
Registering includes event registration and ordering the Kit of Parts. We’ve made it easy to pay your team’s fees with favorable terms, online payments, discounts for rookie teams, and more.
Find and invite at least 10 students who want to be part of a robotics team (the easiest part!). Be sure to emphasize that no technical skills are required, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Recruit all kinds of talents, not just engineering and electronics.
Your team will need a steady supply of funds. Recruit local businesses to sponsor you. Many of them may already have a relationship with FIRST. We also have many fundraising opportunities you can explore. Grants are available for both rookie and underserved teams.
At FIRST, student safety is always paramount. Every adult must become familiar with our Youth Protection Program (YPP). Take the time to watch our videos and read our youth protection materials.
Part of the fun is designing and building your robot and FIRST provides a wealth of information in our Resource Library to help you. Find everything from technical guides, to fundraising ideas, or fun activities for your team.
What does it cost to participate? There are costs involved with forming a FIRST Robotics Competition team and they can vary from team to team and region to region depending on what level of participation the team chooses.
Here are some basic cost parameters:
Hard work pays off! Each FIRST Robotics Competition season culminates with district and regional events where qualifying teams compete for awards and a spot at the FIRST Championship. Events at every level offer students an amazing experience as they celebrate their hard work, have fun, make new friendships, and are exposed to ideas and ideology that will enhance their lives for decades to come. Every participant is eligible to apply for college scholarships!
FIRST Robotics Competition team members, adult Mentors, and Volunteers all agree – season-ending events (various Regional Event, District Events and FIRST Championship) are the most amazing, inspiring experiences they’ve ever had. Where else can you make new friends, share ideas, solve problems on the fly, compete like crazy, and get pumped up over technology all while having the time of your lives? At FIRST Robotics Competition events, students realize more than ever that FIRST is all about teamwork, sharing, helping others, and respect.
View season and Championship results.
A big advantage to participating in FIRST is gaining access to millions in college scholarships made available by colleges, universities, and corporations who support FIRST. This is exclusive financial help open only to FIRST team members, giving them a competitive leg up on other students seeking educational funds.
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