Welcome to the 2014 FIRST Championship!
“What we thought…”
Twenty-five years ago, FIRST began in a humble high-school gym in New Hampshire with a bunch of high schoolers and a new idea – that we could help influence the future of our world by introducing kids to the fun, wonder, and endless possibilities of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Our dream was to create an incubator for the development of future generations of innovators, tinkerers, doers, and thinkers. We wanted kids to realize that it’s scientists and engineers who create technological marvels and should be recognized and celebrated just like rock stars and athletes.
That idea, which we celebrate every year with the thrill of competition, has caught on like wildfire.
“…versus what we got”
Two-and-a-half decades later, FIRST spans the globe, touching the lives of over 350,000 young people in nearly 80 countries with a progression of four after-school programs spanning K-12. Over 130,000 passionate adults freely volunteer their time to coach, guide, referee, fund, and do whatever it takes to make FIRST happen. Building on the original group of Sponsors that helped us get off the ground, we’ve managed to attract the attention, dedication, and generosity of more than 200 of the Fortune® 500 companies, the names of which you’ll see throughout this book. Together, we have become a gigantic family sharing the belief that mankind’s future is in the hands of inspired young people who truly believe that anything is possible. And every year, our family grows larger as more and more kids and adults realize the power of FIRST.
At this Championship, elementary and middle school kids will amaze us with what they’ve discovered about earth’s natural disasters and their solutions to help people in the future through the DISASTER BLASTERSM (Junior FIRST® LEGO® League) and Nature’s FurySM (FIRST® LEGO® League) Challenges. Middle and high-school students will compete with team-designed robots in FTC BLOCKPARTY!SM (FIRST® Tech Challenge) and aerial assistSM (FIRST® Robotics Competition).
During your visit to the Championship, you’ll notice something extraordinary – tens of thousands of enthusiastic kids interacting positively, sharing ideas, offering help to their competitors, and being polite to all. We call it “Gracious Professionalism®.” It’s one of many life skills all FIRST participants learn, practice, and take with them throughout their lives. Pass it on…it’s infectious!
We need to thank so many: the city of St. Louis, welcoming us for the fourth year and generously spreading the word about our mission; the Governor of the great state of Missouri; the Mayor of St. Louis; and, the many businesses, citizens, and tireless Volunteers who support us. A special shout-out, too, to our army of Mentors, Volunteers, Alumni, and supporters. Thank you all!
Lastly, a call to action: Become a Mentor. Help raise funds. Sponsor a team. Commit your company’s time, people, and resources. It all starts at usfirst.org. Let the fun begin and best of luck to all FIRST teams!
Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder