FIRST Class?

does anyone have an actual class devoted to first during the year. my teacher told us he was going to try and get this started i thought it was kindof odd. if anyone does have it can u guys fill me in on how it works?

If you do it, I’d say just make sure either everyone is guaranteed an A for a certain minumum amount of time (and knows that going into it) or that there are no grades assigned. Grades and robotics can cause a lot of problems.

White Paper on the a course outline, done by Mike Martus.

We have a new course that we will be introducing a robotics course next year. I don’t know what will be covered but I do know that it will not be connected to FIRST.

My school system purchased 20+ Vex kits at the $150 price from Radioshack, along with a programming kit for each of them. The “Power” class will cover a small amount of Vex in the upcoming school year once they finish their usual curriculum, but the year after we will be offering a full-fledged Robotics class that uses the Vex kits. It will not be directly tied to our FRC/FVC teams, but there will definitely be cross-enrollment and recruiting in it. I don’t think we have a curriculum for it yet however.

We have a class devoted to nothing but FIRST. We get graded on how well we do our jobs at the competitions and by turning in our paper work on time that is required for the team. There are also other things that we get graded on but most of the chunk is from what is listed above. It counts as a regular class in the 2nd semester for 6th hour. You get the same credit as if it was a normal class. Every team member is required to be in this class. :slight_smile:

I am assuming that you are talking about a class that manufactures a robot, and works on other award entries to compete in FIRST. With that said, our School District - with the inspiration of Cybersonics, has implemented many courses that reflect FIRST competitions, but at a much smaller scale. Students design “mini-robots” that compete in a game formulated by the instructor. AutoCad classes have also been established. Team members are not required to join these classes nor are special grades/extra credit given to members that do.

As for “in-school” building classes:

  1. It would most likely be too complicated to fit in everyone’s schedule, especially with a large team or a small school.
  2. The course would probably have to be open to the entire student body - meaning that students not on the team could enroll. Unless special recommendation requirements are installed.
  3. Most students may wish to take advantage of classes that reflect their interests while they are in school, and save the building for after school.

There’s a lot of items to consider. In the end, it may be possible to construct a course for FIRST participants where the building of the robot takes place. However, complications may emerge when it comes time to scheduling - does the majority of students on the team want to take the class? Are all members able to fit it in their schedules?


Our FIRST program is attached with four classes.

  1. Engineering Physics.
  2. Physics of Technology.
  3. Engineering Systems 1.
  4. Engineering Systems 2.

All the classes have a 6 week project at the start of January. Its pretty much open to whatever you want to do, but most of the people choose to do FRC. At the same time, the main leadership body lies within Engineering Systems 2; theses students are graded on how they manage and organize the whole team.
Other than that we also have a community club that brings in the home schoolers and students from other high school to participate in our team.

The fun thing about this process is that if you are taking a class, your grade depends on the completion of your responsibility; so no one has to go around and boss people. Not to mention that we have designated “System Engineers Students” who analyze the whole system every year for risk management.

We are trying to get a class called “Intro to Engineering” using Vex kits. We started planning it after students picked their courses for next year so it’s just a pilot program for this fall.

Next year, as far as I know, it will be in the cirriculum.

At my school, we don’t necessarily have a class devoted to FIRST, but we’ve got classes that teach how to use Inventor and CAD. I took the class that taught Inventor, and it helped me a lot.

However, my cousin told me yesterday that in his high school, there is a class where the students built a robot and brought it to competitions. He didn’t know a lot of the details, but I think it’s connected to FIRST. He said he was visiting the high school and saw a trophy from the Peachtree regional.

I wish I went to his school. =D

Yes, WCC has a course (ROB 170) mainly devoted to building the robot.
You also get an intro to things like C programming and electronics.
I’d take it myself if I had the time.

Heres another really good idea. Even though we have four classes attached to FIRST, we are trying to get as many people involve as we can. Recently our new leadership team is trying to recruit the teachers from the Web Developing Class, Programming Class (Java & C), Technical Drawings, and Advance Drawings to be part of FIRST program.
So even if you don’t have a class devoted to FIRST, recruiting teachers can be a really good deal too. I was not known to FIRST, until my teacher gave me an assignment to work on which, was related to FIRST, and i got in :).
Its like “bait the hook well, so the fish will bite.” This is how i did it last year for my team:
"An excellent course and a great teacher is always recognized by Awards…and how cool would that be if its from F.I.R.S.T."
It worked me we got plenty of teachers involved.

If you mean that instead of an afterschool activity, FIRST is a regular class, then I strongly recommend against it.

One of the great things about FIRST is that it is not school - its something different. You are not being graded or watched or measured on your participation and performance, you are being given an opportunity to work with engineers and other professionals to what careers in science and technology are like.

FIRST is not intended to be an educational program - its an inspirational program. How can you give a student a grade? Based on their level of inspiration?!

I dont have a problem with classes related to FIRST stuff, learning to program, learning about motors or mechanics, learning CAD tools or computer animation

but please dont take the FIRST experience and try to shoe-horn it into a HS classroom format.

i can see what your saying, and while i completely agree with you i feel that the resion for making the class is so a team can have more time to work on the robot during the six weeks thats just think.

I agree 100% with Ken on this one. And from your viewpoint, you’re saying that the purpose of the class is to have more time spent to work with the robot. Now if this was a semester course, it would probably start several weeks into the build season. So you’re losing time there [if you want extra time], and then it is only going to be the length of one class peiod ~45 min -1 hr]. So where exactly are you going to be gaining that much extra time to work with the robot where it will make a huge impact, I 'm not so sure of.

On the other hand, if it were to be a full year course, then the majority of the time the class is in session would be spent during the off-season, and only 4 months with the bot [Jan-April], and then whichever off-season events you go to, but then again, those would be on weekends.

I really don’t see an advantage that would either make or break a team based on whether or not the school had a class based soley on FIRST. It would be extremely hard to grade each student as Ken previously mentioned. Having a class would put FIRST into an entirely different perspective, which its purpose is not.

There are many more advantages to classes which teach students some skills which they can use whether or not they join the school’s FIRST team. * I know our school offers Computer Science coursees [Java] and CAD/Inventor classes. Now granted that not all of the kids from these classes did not join the robotics team [although a select few did], everyone benefitted from them. Our scouting program this year was developed and programmed by the AP Computer Science class, and it gave them a chance to apply what they were learning into a real life application. Now opposite of this, these classes also allow students who are on the robotics team to enroll in these courses in order to learn new things which they can effectively apply and contribute to the team.*

wow! thats awesome.

I have heard of students taking photography and video classes following the FIRST team, and going to competitions, as an assignment for their class.

You could also do things like having students in a mechanical CAD class generate the drawings for a gearbox or motor mount - some type of part that might be a standard on the teams robot over several years. If the members of the FIRST team designed it, and the drafting class only made up the drawings then I think that would be within the spirit of the competition rules.

The more I think of this, the more examples of FIRST related science and technology that could be gleaned from the team, and incorporated into already existing HS classes.

As long as you dont make the FIRST team itself a HS course.

Thanks for making this post Booger. It has generated some thought and exchange of information. If our homework is to establish a FIRST team in every high school, there will be lots of flexibility and creative opportunities explored in exactly how to accomplish this goal. Through Philmont 629’s post, I’ve learned that Mr. Martus has developed an excellent FIRST course outline for us to look at and use as a guide if anyone wants to think along these lines. You could print this white paper off and present it to your teacher as a reference.

No problem. It has been very informative to me also.

In our high school, Upper Darby, one of our mentors, Ms.Hale, has started and teaches a Robotics Programming course that is taught using both FLL and FVC robots. It was a year round, half block class in which we learned programming basics and moved onto accomplishing set goals. Basically to finish up the FLL section, we played the game Ocean Oddysey since we had spare kits from hosting the FLL tournament. Then we moved on to Vex and learned more about the programming using EasyC, along with calculating things such as torque, using different sensors, etc…

The really cool thing was, based on the work I did in the class, I am currently learning over the summer how to program our FRC robot so I can be of greater assistance next year.

I tend to agree with Ken on this that “FIRST” itself should not be constrained by the academic world. Inspiration seldom comes from the classroom.

I do, however, believe that extra credit in academics can be applied from the FIRST program and activities.

All manner of skills / studies are applied in FIRST. Mechanical engineering, Electrical Engineering, Programming, CAD design, Math, Physics, Social studies (interaction), Business, Accounting, and most of all real life problem solving in a team enviroment. All of these things give the FIRST student a significant advantage because it demonstrates real world applications of the things that are taught in the classroom.