In 2009, the Department of Polytechnic Studies teamed up with St. Louis FIRST (www.stlfirst.org) with funding from the WIRED Initiative of the Workforce Investment Board to encourage K-12 robotics competitions in the Southeast Missouri region. The goal of this is to encourage student participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields with the ultimate goal of training a high-tech workforce for the region. That first year, 26 teams from our region signed up for the "Hot Shots" FIRST Technology Challenge (FTC), a high school robotics competition. While initial plans had us bringing these teams to an existing competition in St. Louis, we were able to host our own qualifying event at Southeast Missouri State University. We've been very fortunate to have teams continue on with us and have annually held qualifying events for FTC. In 2013 we expanded our offerings by hosting, for the first time in our region, the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) qualifying event for the "Nature's Fury" season. FLL is a robotics competition and innovation fair for students from 4th to 8th grade. That also has continued as an annual event. We are happy to host these events and provide students in our region an opportunity to discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, engineering, and math.
FIRST (www.firstinspires.org, an acronym "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") is a non-profit organization impacting more than 400,000 youth founded by Dean Kamen, a prolific inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology. The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, technology, engineering, and math skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. These life skills include FIRST concepts of 'Coopertition' and 'Gracious Professionalism'. These stress the importation of competing and doing the best you can, but also helping your fellow teams and respecting individuals and the community.
It has robots, but it’s way more than building robots! FIRST Tech Challenge teams are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have!” Guided by adult Coaches and Mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles (like keeping an engineering notebook), while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and can be programmed using a variety of languages, including Java. Teams also must raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships. High performing teams from Southeast's event can make it to the State Championship. Each season concludes with the FIRST World Championship.
In the FIRST LEGO League competitions, tomorrow’s innovators practice imaginative thinking and teamwork. Guided by two or more adult Coaches, FIRST LEGO League teams (up to 10 members, grades 4-8) research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build, program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, and then compete on a table-top playing field. This includes components of both a robotics competition and an innovation fair. Teams are challenged to work hard, but in a supportive environment and having the most fun possible. High performing teams from Southeast's event can make it to the Eastern Missouri Regional Championship.
Please contact us with the information above. At times we have funding available to support new teams. We can also connect you to teams who have some experience and can talk about how to manage teams. Although most teams are associated with a school (either public or private), teams can also be associated with community groups (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Home School Organizations, etc.).
This product was partially funded by a grant awarded under the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Initiative as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.