FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by American inventor Dean Kamen and aims to design accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Based in New Hampshire, U.S., FIRST is supported by a network of more than 3,500 sponsors, including corporations, educational and professional institutions (including NASA, XEROX and General Motors) and individuals.
Close to 180,000 volunteers are also lending support to this unique charity organization to assist professional mentors to deliver FIRST’s programs.
FIRST's mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
FIRST’s programming, which reaches more than 400,000 American students each year, includes the following events:
The FIRST Championship is the seasonal highlight of these programs, bringing together three separate robotics competitions for the ultimate “Sport for the Mind.” The next FIRST Championship will take place April 22-25, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.
FIRSTand Brandeis University have also launched a multi-year longitudinal study of three major programs: FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Robotics Competition.
The goal of the study is to provide data on the long-term impacts of FIRST programs on key outcomes. This includes student interest in science and technology, STEM majors, STEM careers, and practical life and workplace skills.
Over the next five years, the study will track a sample of approximately 1000 FIRST program participants and a matched comparison group of non-FIRST students. The data for the study comes from a combination of student, parent, and team leader surveys, as well as interviews and focus groups with study participants.