FIRST, For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international organization that challenges young people to solve problems using Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or more commonly known as STEM. It offers four programs for different age groups. From Grades K to three, there is  FIRST Lego League Junior [FLL Jr.]. From Grades four to eight, they can participate in FIRST Lego League [FLL].  Starting in high school, they can enter the FIRST Tech Challenge [FTC] and the FIRST Robotics Competition [FRC].

 FLL Jr. Teams

FLL Teams

FTC Teams

FRC Teams

Overview of Programs

Photo by Michael Brunk /

The FIRST Robotics Competition was created in 1992, and was held in a high school gymnasium in New Hampshire. Twenty-eight teams participated, and the competition started out as individual wins. Up until 2005, competitions were played with 2, 3, and 4-team alliances; now, competitions consist of two three-team alliances against each other. After more than two decades, the competition has expanded to 17 countries, with about 2,720 teams and 47,500 members.

More about FIRST



FIRST Lego League Junior began in 2004, starting out as a pilot program to introduce young children to science and engineering. In 2007, the program officially launched and was later re-branded as FLL Jr. in 2008. Each year, the LEGO Group supplies a new robotics kit to teams in various countries, including the United States, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Israel, Canada, and Belgium. The kit includes parts for children to create an object that, when connected to a motor/sensor, will perform a series of tasks. Teams usually consist of 2-6 team members, while the program is intended for children ages 6-9, or 1st to 3rd grade elementary school kids.




Established in 1999, this program was created to engage children in fun learning while educating them about science and technology. Fabricated by FIRST founder Dean Kamen and LEGO Group member Kjeld Kristiansen, over the last two decades the program has expanded to encompass over 22,000 teams and 275,000 participants. Each September, a new challenge is announced by NASA to the students related to a real-world topic related to science. The students, ages 9-14, then design and program Lego Mindstorm robots to complete tasks. Not only do these teams have to create their robot, but they also have to present their robot in a Robot Design Executive Summary, as well as complete a research project, and be tested on their Core Values such as respect, gracious professionalism, and spirit.



FIRST Tech Challenge, or formerly known as First Vex Challenge, was created in 2005 as a competition based around a lower-cost robot to reach younger people. Aimed towards youth from 9th-12th grade, the competition grew out of FRC and was a collaborative effort by FIRST, Innovation FIRST and RadioShack. The kit given to each team is called the Vex Robotics Design System. With a new challenge each year, teams have to both build and program their robot, along with creating an “Engineering Notebook” which documents their build season and experiences as a team.