FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an organization that was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 that is driven to inspire young people to enter STEM fields through its robotics programs. The program helps children of all ages to become science and technology leaders with well-rounded skill sets through hands-on learning, teamwork, mentorship from adults in STEM fields, and more.
FIRST has six core values that its teams exemplify: discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork, and fun. Through these values, FIRST teams perpetuate a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion for all of their members. Two other terms lie at the core of FIRST's ethos: Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition. According to the FIRST website, "With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process." Coopertition is the idea that teams should help and cooperate with one another, even as they compete against each other on the field. With these core concepts, FIRST team members are driven to become kind, respectful, competitive, and well-rounded people that are more prepared to enter adulthood and the workforce.
At Bemidji High School, we participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition. In this program, we design, program, and build robots from scratch to compete against other teams in a game that changes annually. Although we are focused on building the best robot we can, we also have other objectives, such as gaining grants and sponsorships to support our team, becoming involved in our community through outreach events to spread the message of FIRST, and creating a team identity through our branding and behavior.
Visit the FIRST website here