It’s way more than building robots.
FIRST Tech Challenge teams (10+ members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have!” Guided by adult Coaches and Mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles (like keeping an engineering notebook), while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and can be programmed using a variety of languages, including Java. Teams also must raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships. Each season concludes with Super-Regional Championships and an exciting FIRST Championship.
The positive impact on FIRST Tech Challenge participants is gratifying and well documented. Over 86% have more interest in doing well in school and 87% are more interested in attending college. View impact resources.
FIRST Tech Challenge teams get to:
The really cool thing about FIRST Tech Challenge is being part of a team. All skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical and non-technical. Read on for more about team basics, time frame, commitment, and skills required.
The FIRST® Tech Challenge season starts in May, when teams generally form and registration opens. Season kick-off is in early September when the season’s game is announced. The design and build season runs from September to January. Tournament season varies by region and can begin as early as October and continues through April. State and Regional Tournaments advance teams to Super-Regional Championship Tournaments, and winners earn spots at FIRST Championship at the end of April. There are also many off-season events where teams participate, strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun!
Mentors or adult Volunteers meet with their team at least once per week during the build and competition season (September – 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. Students meet at least once per week from Mid-September through April. Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become at your task(s).
All skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical and non-technical. Teams need all kinds of skills to succeed, so what are you good at? Chances are we have a job for you. And we’ll probably teach you a few new ones while you’re with us.
Student and adult 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 Tech Challenge welcomes every student, with or without special skills.
FIRST Tech Challenge gives middle and high school students and their adult mentors the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem. Teams are challenged to design and build a robot using a kit of parts and within a common set of rules to play a sophisticated field game. The robot game changes every season and is a blast!
FIRST redefines winning by rewarding teams for achievements both on and off the field − excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, Gracious Professionalism™, and outreach efforts are some of the award criteria. Winning is always secondary to the quality of the overall experience.
Remember: NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED AND YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!
Familiarize yourself with FIRST Tech Challenge by checking out the materials on our website and social media pages. Then locate your region’s Affiliate Partner 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 two or more adult Mentors who are willing and motivated to coach the team through the build and competition season and beyond. Other adults can volunteer to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, and other tasks.
Once registered, your team becomes a part of the worldwide FIRST Tech Challenge community. You’ll begin receiving communications from FIRST, along with a temporary team number in preparation for event registration in the fall. Part of the registration process include ordering the kit of parts and completing payment. (Please note that, until you click submit, you are not committed to becoming a team.)
Find and invite at least 3 students (maximum 15) who want to be part of a robotics team. 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 electrical.
Your team will need to build a budget and fund their goals. 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, including grants for both rookie and veteran 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.
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