FIRST provides programs supporting students in all grade levels (K-12). Involvement and intensity increases as the students progress through the various programs. It is not necessary to “start at the bottom at work your way up.” Students can enter at any level, based on their current grade level.
Worldwide, FIRST programs reach over 303,000 students on nearly 29,000 teams with over 25,000 robots and involve over 58,000 mentors and 33,000 event volunteers.
FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
Grade Levels: 9-12
FRC is FIRST’s flagship program and longest running program. Typically, teams consist of high school students, teachers, parents and engineering mentors from local businesses. Teams have six-weeks to design, build, test and ship a fully functional robot specifically designed to compete in that season’s competition.
FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)
Grade levels: 7-12
FTC was created to provide a lower-cost alternative to the FRC program, while still focusing on the same core values. Many schools have successfully used FTC as a starting point before entering the FRC program, while others have used FTC as a junior varsity program to train students to compete in the FRC’s varsity level program.
FIRST LEGO® League (FLL)
Grade levels: 4-8
Registration: May- mid-September (or until full)
FIRST introduced FLL as a way to engage and excite even younger students. FLL quickly grew to FIRST’s largest program, engaging approximately 205,000 students in the 2012/13 season. FLL participants use the LEGO® Mindstorms NXT robotics kit to design and program autonomous robots to complete game specific tasks. FLL participants are also tasked with completing game-related research projects and present their findings to industry leaders at their tournaments. Games are designed around relevant subject matters. Past games have addressed issues such as global warming, energy conservation, and Mars exploration.
Junior FIRST LEGO® League (Jr.FLL)
Grade levels: K-3
Registration: August – mid-April (or until full)
Recognizing that FLL student’s siblings also wanted to play, FIRST introduced the Jr.FLL program. Sharing the same annual challenge as the FLL program, Jr.FLL participants focus on the research portion of the challenge, and build a LEGO® model to help show their research and challenge solution.