Famous inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kamen, founded FIRST in 1989. The mission of FIRST is to design innovative programs that help young people gain skills in the fields of science and technology. Students from ages 6-18 participate in various competitions. Special attention is paid to development of self-confidence and leadership skills. This program is backed by numerous corporate sponsors, educational and professional institutions, and a team of over 45,000 volunteers.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) sponsors science-related competitive programs. There were over 130,000 students from over 45 countries involved in 2006. The main competitive theme is referred to as “Gracious Professionalism.” This ethos is part of the FIRST program that teaches that high-quality work and valuing the competition are all a part of winning. Teams compete on a high level and learn to respect each other. There are never any losers or last place finishers. Everyone discovers that they can contribute to society with personal integrity and appreciation for the opposition.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is the main event for high school aged students. Teams construct remote controlled robots which compete in various games. Back in 1989, there were 28 schools involved in the games. Today there are over 1,100.
The FIRST Vex Challenge is the mid-level of robotic contests. High school students gets hands-on education and learn problem solving skills. Teamwork is encouraged as students encounter real world applications while gaining confidence and self-esteem.
For students ages 9-14, there is the FIRST LEGO League. Teams work to solve real world problems by building robots using engineering concepts. This program inspires enthusiasm for discovery and experimentation in the fields of science and engineering.
Children in the 6-9 age bracket are introduced to the world of practical science in the Junior FIRST LEGO League. Similar to the other programs, students learn basic design skills through teaching the sharing of ideas and learning from others.
Located in Manchester, NH, FIRST also offers a creative development program designed for all ages. The FIRST Place facility offers over 15,000 square feet of workshop space. In this setting, students and teachers alike can explore all types of science, math, and technology on their own terms. It is equipped with tools, workbenches, movable computer workstations, and networked classrooms. FIRST Place is often the laboratory for the development of new programs and educational partnerships.
FIRST presents any number of ways to get involved with this marvelous program. There is direct involvement through volunteering in several capacities or by starting your own team. You can also sponsor any number of events or make a monetary donation. This is one of the most positive and enriching programs of its kind in the United States and Canada. Dean Kamen may not be a household name, but his work and dedication in making FIRST the tremendous success it is today deserves applause.
This man has also been on the forefront of inventing numerous medical devices. His company works with corporations to help solve technical problems that previously had no solutions. Over 200 people work for his company, DEKA. If you want to know how a company should be run, investigate DEKA. If you want to make a positive contribution to the future of our youth in this country, a donation in any amount would be welcome.