Move over BB-8 and R2D2, the FIRST Robotics Competition is upon us! Since February, teams of high school students have been working hard to build robots in the ultimate hands-on STEM experience—hence the acronym FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology!)
In this high-energy, rewarding opportunity dubbed “the hardest fun you’ll ever have,” students organized into teams of 10 or more, meet several times per week (even nights and weekends!) over a six-week period, solving real life and engineering challenges, managing their time and meeting their goals. With guidance from adult mentors, and through hard work, ingenuity, and most importantly, teamwork, their robots ultimately compete in regional “sport” match-ups for a chance to qualify for national championship events. But win or lose in the robot head-to-heads, it’s truly the entire process counts.
“FIRST is more than robots. The robots are vehicles for students to learn important life skills. Kids often come in not knowing what to expect—of the program nor of themselves. They leave, even after the first season, with a vision, with confidence and with a sense that they can create their own future,” said FIRST’s founder Dean Kamen, of the experience. The organization also stresses that the FIRST Robotics Competition welcomes all students, and that no special skills are required to compete. Bonus: Participating gains you access to college scholarships opportunities totaling up to $25 million.
Intrigued? The 2017 championship events will be held in Houston, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri in April, and if you’d like to be there, you’ve got until the fall to gather up a team of 10 participants and at least two mentors, and find a suitable place to hold meetings, and design and build your industrial sized robot. No need to stress though. FIRST provides many resources to help you start a team, register, find sponsors and fundraise to cover the $5,000 to $6,000 cost of annual team fees, which includes registration, events and a robot kit of parts. So don’t hesitate to reach out to them with any question or concerns.
And if you want a sneak peek, catch the 2016 competition live.
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good show for kids
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