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Review for FIRST, Manchester, NH, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I participated in FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) from 6th through 12th grade. As a nerdy teenage girl, I felt like FIRST was a place where I was accepted and important. I was already interested in science and technology, so I appreciated being mentored by professional engineers and scientists and learning real-world technical skills like college level physics, computer programming, and using power tools. FIRST was an Inspiration and helped me have the skills and confidence to jump headfirst into a hands-on engineering project club in college. In turn, these experiences led into a research position and a NASA internship. I feel like FIRST gave me a head start on my future mechanical engineering career.
Some of my teammates were less technically inclined and have gone on to study less STEM-focused majors. Nevertheless, they learned so much about science and technology that they all have a greater Recognition and appreciation for the role it plays in our lives. Additionally, many hard skills from FIRST do apply to areas beyond the STEM fields. My nursing-major teammates have greater understandings of noise induced hearing loss, foodborne illness, arthritis, and the risk of falls to senior citizens from our years in FLL's Body Forward, Food Factor, and Senior Solutions challenges. My business major teammate used her experience fundraising for our team's trip to the World Championship to help her earn the positions of first Marketing Manager and then General Manager of the Student Store in high school, and she contributed lots of knowledge to our FTC team's business plan.
All of us, regardless of interests, learned many important and endlessly useful soft skills like teamwork, good sportsmanship, initiative, public speaking, commitment, confidence, and a value for learning and for giving back. FIRST is an excellent organization for any child to be a part of, or for any adult to support. Volunteer at a competition, mentor a team, convince your company to sponsor teams or your university to give scholarships or your local politicians to support the teams like a sport, or just visit an event and be amazed by what a group of kids can accomplish with the right help.

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