FIRST Acronym Decoder

FIRST is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people ages 6 to 18 discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology and math. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the 2011-2012 FIRST season attracted close to 300,000 youth and more than 100,000 Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers from 60+ countries. The annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition and celebration where teams win recognition, gain self confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.

There are various levels students can get involved in for all ages.

Junior FIRST LEGO League (JFLL)

This program features a real-world scientific concept to be explored through research, teamwork, construction, and imagination. Guided by adult Coaches, teams of children ages 6 to 9 get to:

  • Design and build a challenge-related model using LEGO components.
  • Create a Show-Me poster and practice presentation skills.
  • Explore challenges facing today’s scientists.
  • Discover real-world math and science.
  • Begin developing teamwork skills.
  • Choose to participate in events and celebrations.
  • Engage in team activities guided by Jr.FLL Core Values.

Read more about Jr.FLL

FIRST LEGO League (FLL)

Children are immersed in real-world science and technology challenges. Through their participation, children develop valuable life skills and discover exciting career possibilities while learning that they can make a positive contribution to society.

Children ages 9 to 14 get to:

  • Create innovative solutions for challenges facing today’s scientists as part of their research project.
  • Strategize, design, build, program, and test a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology.
  • Apply real-world math and science concepts.
  • Develop employment and life skills including critical thinking, time management, collaboration, and communication while becoming more self confident.
  • Become involved in their local and global community.
  • Choose to participate in official tournaments and local events.
  • Qualify for an invitation to World Festival.
  • Engage in team activities guided by FLL Core Values.

Read more about FLL.

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)

FTC is designed for middle- and high-schoolers who want to compete head to head using a sports model. Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete on a 12 X 12’ field in an Alliance format against other teams. Robots are built using a TETRIX® platform that is reusable from year-to-year using a variety of languages. Teams, including Coaches, Mentors, and Volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as well as community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.

Students get to:

  • Design, build, and program robots.
  • Apply real-world math and science concepts.
  • Develop problem-solving, organizational, and team-building skills.
  • Compete and cooperate in alliances at tournaments.
  • Earn a place in the World Championship.
  • Qualify for nearly $10 million in college scholarships.

Read more about FTC

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)

Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind,™  FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 or more high school-age students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real world” engineering as a student can get. Professional Mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team.

High school students get to:

  • Work alongside professional engineers.
  • Build and compete with a robot of their own design.
  • Learn and use sophisticated hardware and software.
  • Develop design, project management, programming, teamwork, and strategic thinking skills.
  • Earn a place in the Championship.
  • Qualify for over $14 million in college scholarships.

Read more about FRC.