Washington FIRST Robotics Programs
FIRST has four levels of competition for the kids to engage in: Jr FIRST LEGO® League for grades K-3, FIRST LEGO® League for grades 4-8, FIRST Tech Challenge or grades 6-12, and FIRST Robotics Competition for grades 9-12.
JrFLL captures young children’s inherent curiosity and directs it toward discovering the wonders of science and technology. Guided by adult coaches, teams use LEGO® bricks to build a model, with at least one moving part, that addresses a real-world problem. The kids on each team also develop a Show-Me Poster to illustrate their journey.
In FLL, children are immersed in real-world science and technology challenges. Teams design their own solution to a current real-world scientific problem and build autonomous LEGO Robots that perform a series of missions. Through their participation, children develop valuable life skills and discover exciting career possibilities while learning that they can make a positive contribution to society.
FTC is designed for middle and high school students. Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete on a 12’ X 12’ field in Alliance format against other teams. Robots are built using a TETRIX® platform that is reusable from year-to-year and programmed using a variety of languages. Teams, guided by coaches and professional mentors, 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.
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 students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” use 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.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In Washington State, the number of FIRST teams has doubled in the past two years. There are now FIRST teams in 30% of Washington high schools. Washington FIRST teams serve kids from all backgrounds, including urban, rural, and low-income.
According to a 2005 Brandeis University study, FIRST participants nationwide are 50% more likely to attend college and twice as likely to major in science or engineering as kids of similar backgrounds.
Our biggest challenge right now is keeping up with our high growth rate. One of our goals is for every student in Washington State to have access to a FIRST team by 2020. In order to achieve this goal, we need funds to support new and existing teams, as well as create new events so that all teams in all areas of Washington have a place to compete.