FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Washington engages youth ages 6-18 in exciting mentor-based programs that build science and technology leaders. Along with 5,500 mentors and event volunteers, we serve 11,040 youth on 1,036 teams across thirty-three counties, and are the largest after school STEM program in the state.
At FIRST, youth can progress through four programs that use project-based learning: FIRST LEGO League Jr. (grades K-4); FIRST LEGO League (grades 4-8); FIRST Tech Challenge (grades 7-12); and FIRST Robotics Competition (grades 9-12). Our programs are unique—and different than other programs--in that they literally immerse youth into a real-world engineering experience, a subculture of STEM that they can’t get in a traditional classroom, and otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. Under the leadership of a coach/mentor, youth form teams, meet regularly to solve a challenge, and participate in friendly sports-like competitions throughout the year. Using robotics as a vehicle for students to learn to experiment, deal with failure, work on a team, research a problem, and learn valuable career, communication, and teamwork skills, students as young as six apply this learning to design a robot around an annual challenge, or theme applicable to the real world. The culture of FIRST engages youth in a supportive learning environment for science and technology that literally changes lives.