We are a club of interested kids and adults, formed to help middle and high school students in northwest Missouri to learn more about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by designing and building robots that compete with other teams in a program called “First Tech Challenge.”
This program was created by FIRST, the leading, not-for-profit STEM engagement program for kids worldwide, founded by Dean Kamen in 1989. Dean is a prolific inventor, entrepreneur, and science and technology advocate best known as the inventor of the Segway.
FIRST Tech Challenge teams, consisting of up to 12 students from grades 7-12, are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots that play a floor game in an alliance format. Guided by adult 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. 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 features a new game challenge, announced in September. Teams have until December or January to design and build a robot to compete in this challenge. Competition begins with qualifying tournaments, then a state-wide Championship, followed by regional Championships and ultimately, a World Championship.