FIRST Science and Technology Programs

Reviewed by Wendy

What it is: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a nonprofit offering a collection of programs created to encourage kids and teens to participate more in science and technology.

The four main programs are FIRST LEGO League (grades 4-8), FIRST LEGO League Jr. (ages 6 to 10), FIRST Tech Challenge (grades 7-12) and FIRST Robotics Competition (high school).

The programs encourage kids and teens to create teams and work with adult coaches to create, compete and showcase their pieces, many of which solve real-world issues (e.g., recycling, energy, etc.). They build robots, invent things and travel to various competitions and expos. Best of all, they build confidence and make friends!

Brain Benefits: Depending on the project, almost every cognitive skill is being used! Visual and auditory processing, logic & reasoning, memory, processing speed, attention are all being boosted alongside cooperation, creativity and motor skills.

What I love: Besides the general concept of getting kids to love science and technology through fun things like Legos and building robots, it’s great that this organization prioritizes underrepresented, underserved and vulnerable youth. Besides minorities, these include girls and young women, youth with disabilities and who are runaways or in foster care, and economically disadvantaged kids and teens, among others.

I also love that FIRST provides educational scholarships (from one-time awards to full four-year tuition!).

I especially love that they’re taking the stigma out of being a STEM “nerd” and making it fun and cool to be smart!

What I would change: I couldn’t find anything in our region. I wish there more established groups across the country.

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