FIRST

Rating: 4.87 stars   63 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Technology, Education

Location: 200 Bedford Street Manchester NH 03101 USA

Mission: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by Inventor Dean Kamen to inspire and excite secondary high school students about mathematics, science and engineering. Many companies and organizations have established bridges with local schools to help ensure the future presence of a qualified work force, few programs have been developed on the national level. One program that has, and has been very successful in its mission, is the national robotics competition of FIRST. The FIRST conducts regional and national design competitions which demonstrate that engineering, math and science can be interesting, captivating and entertaining as a sporting event.
Target demographics: participants master skills and concepts to aid in learning science and technology through innovative projects and robotics competitions, while gaining valuable employment and life skills.
Geographic areas served: US and 80+ countries
2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I was asked in 2002 to attend a local FIRST robotics competition as a judge. The experience was fantastic and I knew from the start that FIRST was and still is the best organization to help excite kids to embrace science and math as a carreer of choice. FIRST has a wide range of carreer orientaed taasks for high school kids of all interests to become involved. Yes, the comptition of robots is a common goal of the teams but this is only on the surface. Once you dig deeper into the goal of each team, you will find the computer nerds to handle software issues, the mechanics to handle the machine functions, the business students to organize funding, yearly events, end etc. Junior lego competitions engage 6 - 9 year olds, LEGO competitions are for 9 year olds to 8th grade, and FIRST tech challenge and/or FIRST Robotics Competions are for High School age students. Many corporations sponsor FIRST competitions and teams within their community. Without corporate spoonsors, the students would not be able to compete (or learn) at a global level to be prepared for industry after high school. FIRST is the only organization that truely prepares participants for the challenges after high school by partnering the kids with scientist, engineers, and other professionals to complete and compete in a challenge that changes yearly, exposing the kids to new technology along the way. All high schools should allocate money to support a local team to have the opportunity to compete in this World Class organization.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

recruiting students to college.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

expand the Michigan Model to other heavily populated regions to draw in more teams at a reduced cost to the local community.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The excitement of the kids on each of the FIRST teams I've met.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

absolutely fantastic. Many professionals involved are top exceutives at their respective corporations that keep comming back each year, donating their time to help make the competition a success.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Finance another 20 regional events and sponsor 1200 teams by waiving the entrance fee,

Ways to make it better...

FIRST has the financial support from local, state and national governments.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

getting the number of volunteers required to expand FIRST to every school district in the USA and have the appropriate regional events to handle the teams.

One thing I'd also say is that...

high schools need to seriously consider FIRST as part of their curiculum.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I am the Principal Investigator for the TIME Center (Technology and Innovation in Manufacturing and Engineering), a Regional Center of Excellence funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program. We have worked closely with our statewide community college partners, regional FIRST partners and various stakeholder groups to support FIRST robotics as a very effective means of engaging students in problem-based learning activities that spur their innovative thinking and creative problem-solving. It has also proven to be an equally effective means of encouraging students to enter and persist in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs and careers. The rebuilding and repair of the STEM pipeline is critical to the continuing success of the United States in maintaining and enhancing its position in the global manufacturing and engineering marketplace, and the FIRST program has proven its value in contributing to that task. On a personal level, I have been truly impressed with the excitement, energy and enthusiasm of the students who participate in FIRST Robotics, and the impact that their participation has on their perception of themselves and the work world they will eventually manage. I am just as impressed with the commitment of the numerous volunteers, teachers, mentors, family members and corporate partners to the very important goals of the FIRST Robotics program, and the enthusiasm with which they demonstrate that commitment. Recent research we conducted also shows that the FIRST Robotics program is attracting more women and minorities to its activities and to STEM educational programs and careers generally, a critical need as we move toward a more diverse, global workforce.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

influencing the decisions of students and their parents to consider STEM careers and educational programs.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-3-01

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Role: Volunteer
Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

I have worked with students for the last 17 years, starting with my own when they were in kindergarten. My goal in doing so was to encourage them to look at science and math (STEM) topics, stay interested in them, and use them in real life situations. Following my kids all through school, I stuck with the task of trying to teach them at school and at home when possible. Fortunately, I was introduced to FIRST almost five years ago. Once I saw what it was, it hit me that this program is the culmination of all that I had strived to teach. In addition, it had the other topics I never was able to quite wrap around, like business and public relations and fundraising. For the last four-plus years, I have worked with my kids and their friends for about 360 hours during each six-week build season in January and February plus hundreds more hours throughout the year. My goal was to help the team’s students (and my kids) achieve things they never knew could be possible. FIRST is like that, you work towards the main goal of building and competing with a robot and you may never quite realize that what you are learning is much more than how to build a robot. I know now it is about dealing with people, learning to share, learning most importantly to give back to the community you live in. Some teams may worry about winning, raising the most money, going to lots of competitions, and bringing home many awards but this misses the point. The big picture is much more than this. For all its technology, math, science, and competition, FIRST is really about people and learning how to deal with them and most importantly, learning how to give back. Ultimately, FIRST teaches you to be a better student, parent, and educator. And it is fun. Isn’t this what learning is supposed to be all about?

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

every day life, in my kid's career choices, and in their actions and words towards others. I have seen its impact for the last four years and it has been amazing.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find a way to get into more schools so all could enjoy is benefits.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Working with students and thier parents and my kids.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing and extremely hard working and dedicated.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Expand to all schools in the USA to let others enjoy and learn what we have.

Ways to make it better...

If more schools could participate.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Keeping the funding available so that others can continue to participate.

One thing I'd also say is that...

FIRST is for all kids, no matter their background or goals.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I have been the New England Admission Counselor/Assistant Director of Admission for Florida Tech now entering my 12th year. My very first experience with FIRST was at a WPI/NCSSSMST conference, where I saw the history of FIRST. Then I began to experience the energy, the commitment, the competition of all that FIRST involves. Then, when Florida Tech's freshmen robotics team WON a major competition, and 4 out of the 5 were from New England AND ALL were FIRST competitors, I participated in any and all regional FIRST events. Scholarship Row allowed colleges to be in the hall. Florida Tech guarantees ALL a $10,000 scholarship, if they are academically scholarship qualified for FIRST participation. For my university, and for many more, FIRST is symbolic with excellence, creativity, competition, teamwork and pure love of science. FIRST deserves and has earned your recognition and your support.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

This is my first time.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Too early to say.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Learning.

Ways to make it better...

Learning

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

Since learning about FIRST in 2007, our company has supported FIRST programs and I have personally participated in programs and at events. What I have observed is an amazing program that engages children from grade school through high school in more than just robotics, it gets them interested in technology, science and math careers. It takes something that could be intimidating and presents it in a way that all can learn and participate. Not only does it support STEM education but teaches SO MUCH MORE. Its theme of Gracious Professionalism teaches students that it is inot always about winning but the importance of working together and helping others. In addition, teams and partcipants are encouraged to share the message in the community, mentor younger children and provide community service. It is a remarkable organization and I am proud to be a part of the FIRST family.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing the impact it has on children. Their unbounded enthusiasm for learning and being challenged is truly special and unique. The kids have to work really hard and embrace the opportunity.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the interaction with the students, the expressions on their faces and the passion they have.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Bring FIRST to kids of all ages in all countries. It is truly inspirational and I wish more US schools could participate in the program. Since the program is focused on robotics and traveling to competitions, costs at the school level can grow quickly.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

First Robotics is a truly inspiring program. It sucessfully brings together industry, universities, and high schools to build and support the pipline of students who will go into the technological workforce.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Selecting the scholarship recipients.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

we are working together to inspire students to persue technical fields.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

helpful and very responsive.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

FIRST is an organization that seeks to make science and technology interesting and exciting to students through robotics competitions. As well as encouraging teamwork and "gracious professionalism" FIRST hopes the excitement of participation in the competitions will contribute to students staying in school and thinking about post-secondary education in science and Engineering. I am a Professional Engineer and I have judged at many competions over the past seven years. It is inspiring to me to see students excited about the technology of robots, but also very motivating to see the teamwork and growth in the students. Experienced teams help inexperienced teams, older students mentor younger students and past participants come back and assist. FIRST is truly an amazing program and I am grateful for my participation, and to the visionaries who created and continue to lead this effort.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The individual stories of the students invovled are too many to mention. As an example a friend's daughter participated and as a direct result chose Engineering as her area of study in University. Many, many students have similarly been influenced.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

There are very few changes needed! The organization is centred in the U.S. and should continue to increase and celebrate the international particpants (of which I am one)

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The interaction with the students and how they motivate me in my profession. The demonstrations of teamwork by the student teams, along with the knowledge they gain.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Highly engaged to assist and mentor the students and ensure the overall experience is memorable. There are many highly educated Engineers and Scientists and corporate executives that dedicate time from their schedules to assist.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Provide more direct support to teams that do not have the financial resources needed, and the schools that otherwise could not participate in FIRST.

Ways to make it better...

I had started sooner! (and if there were more opportunities to volunteer)

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

There are many activities that draw students and many organizations competing for available funding. I firmly believe that FIRST will continue to expand and change people's lives.

One thing I'd also say is that...

FIRST makes a difference - not only to the students but to all of us who volunteer.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

FIRST is a truly unique organization which helps encourage students from all walks of life to get excited and learn about science and engineering. FIRST creates and organizes events nationwide which encourages students to apply knowledge in a fun filled game that requires teamwork, on the spot thinking and creatvity. It is such a fun experience watching these kids compete, and see how excited they can get about science. The program is helping recruit future scientists and engineers, all while letting the kids have a lot of fun.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Speaking with kids of teams. They are so excited about the work they have done, and the only way for that to happen is through the FIRST organization.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Being able to help encourage students to learn about science.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Kind, gracious and excited.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Help that many more students!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

FIRST Robotics tournaments are the single most exciting outreach activity that I have had an opportunity to witness. As a tournament judge, I am able to interact directly with students who work tremendously hard over a very short 6-week period to build robots for a specified challenge. It is amazing to see what students can do, if you just challenge them. And the FIRST organization does just that. The challenges are difficult, they require time, energy, and resource, but the students get it done anyway. More important is the focus of FIRST on transforming the culture. The award structure celebrates creativity and outreach through a philosophy of gracious professionalism (a term coined by FIRST officials), and a lot of the FIRST teams really get it -- and they know how to reach their school-aged peers. Finally, the FIRST tournaments are like attending a March-Madness basketball event. Music, dancing, and enthusiasm to beat the band. I even saw the band from the Bedford Stuyvesant school in Brooklyn perform at the NY city regional tournament this past spring. It was awesome. If you ever have a chance to go to a FIRST tournament, do yourself and your kids a favor -- just go and see with your own eyes. I guarantee you will have a renewed view of robots and young people in general.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I am a college professor and have several former FIRST participants in my classes. They are always happy to volunteer in tournaments held here at my campus, and the regional tournament about 90 miles away. In general, they just want to give back.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-7-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

I work for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and we give scholarships to worthy students who participate on a FIRST Team. Between working for ASME and as a member I have been able to open up the eyes of many coworkers and other volunteers to see all the good that can come from these kids being on a FIRST Robotics team. In the 4years I have participated I have watch freshman evolve into young adults who have a solid knowledge of what they want to do in the engineering fields and other aspects of life. they have learned to work together for the greater good of the team and learned invaluable life lessons from thier mentors and other teams. I am pleased to see how many high school students come back to thier FIRST Robotic's team to mentor when they can. FIRST has made math and science fun, entertaining, educational and most of all for everyone, not just the geeks... These kids get on the job, hands on training on what they learn in class and then they see how it all clicks and works together in the real world. that is invaluable.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen kids who did not really care for math and science excel in a 4 year process and go into Engineering fields winning all kinds of scholarships during thier journey.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the energy and enthusiams for everyone involved. they have something for all ages, starting as young as 6 yrs old. and these kids are bright.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

well educated, enegertic, positive, very helpful to students.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the way all kids see math and science. they could require all schools to have a robotics program and to enter the FIRST Competiton. Kids would get hands on experience which would help them why they are learning, algebra and science.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-4-01

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