What is FIRST?

FIRST – For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

The FIRST mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

Dean Kamen, Founder

 FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor and engineer Dean Kamen. FIRST was developed to help inspire students to pursue educations and careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.FIRST wants to change our culture so that scientists and engineers are just as much of a role model to young adults as musicians, actors, and sports figures.

 These goals are accomplished by showing students that STEM education is not merely dry memorization from a textbook, but instead a dynamic and engaging learning process. The challenges that students face as part of a FIRST program mirror those they will see while in the workplace. Through the four different robotics programs (Jr. FLL, FLL, FTC, FRC) FIRST teaches students about time/budget management, working with others, and the importance of putting effort into a project.


This program is for students in K through 4th, or ages 6 – 10 years old. Guided by adult caches, Jr. FLL students work with LEGO robots to solve challenges that they would face in the real world. This program helps to discover real-world math and science skills, as well as developing employment and life skills.


FLL is similar to Jr. FLL in that it uses LEGO-based robots to develop solutions to research projects. FLL is geared towards students in grades 4 through 4, or ages 9 – 12. They learn to create innovative solutions for challenges facing today’s scientists as part of their research project.

FTCFIRST Tech Challenge

FTC is the next step of the FIRST robotics program, geared towards students grades 7 through 9, ages 12 – 14. The same principles behind the program are still in place, just the medium for design has changed. Moving away from LEGO-based robots, FTC students use specially designed building materials. Working on these teams help develop problem-solving, organizational, and team-building skills.

FRCFIRST Robotics Challenge

FRC combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. These students (grades 9 through 12, ages 14 – 18) work together under strict guidelines, resources, and time limits to develop a working robot to compete against the world. With only 6 weeks to design, build, and test their robot, it’s as close to “real world” engineering that a student can get. 

According to recent independent study from Brandeis University, students who participate in FIRST programs are:

  • More then three times as likely then other students to pursue a degree in engineering.
  • Significantly more likely to pursue a post-graduate degree.
  • Twice as likely to engage in volunteer work in their community.
  • Carrying their commitment to projects through their college years and the rest of their lives.

Overall Reach – All Programs Combined (2020 Season)

  • 679,000+ students
  • 71,000+ teams
  • 320,000+ mentors/adult supporters
  • 3000+ scholarship opportunities totaling $80M
  • 3,700 events

 Information taken from FIRSTINSPIRES.ORG.