How do you describe FIRST?

Now that the competition season has ended, I have begun my yearly recruiting phase to replace all of the leaving seniors plus some. However I find the hardest question to be the first one everyone asks, “What do you do in robotics?” Ususally it takes me about 2 or 3 minutes to explain it all. How each year the game changes, building, deadlines, competitions, travel, GP, and the list goes on. Does anyone have a shorter version that explains it?

A dillema I think many of us have. Recently we were making a robotics flier…and decided to put a short paragraph about FIRST on there. Needless to say, we were stumped on how to sum it all up, and our end result was the best we could do, but seemed very lacking. I’ll be interested to see peoples replies to this.

How do you describe FIRST?
Two words - You don’t. See, FIRST has gotten so good, and so big, with so many learning (can you even call them learning?) experiences, well, so many different well umm THINGS no, errrr

Well, it can’t be described in words. I honestly spend at least half an hour each day trying to figure it out and I can’t. The best parts of FIRST just cannot be described. They have to be experienced.

(This may not be the thread for this but lack of ability to describe the program - which is a good thing in my mind in the way it has happened - may lead to the downfall in bringing in new people and teams. The rate of growth of the number of teams used to be exponential, now it is more linear. Has FIRST gotten so good that we can’t describe it anymore, and that is leading to a slowing in new members joining?)

I actually think what it really comes down to is time and money. This stuff costs a lot, and I think that is where things are slowing down. I think we would see more teams coming in if we could get more donations to FIRST itself, to help lower the costs of the competition, especially in the way of the kit of parts.


I thought of something that covers a lot of it through analogy…
We build robots… but it isn’t only building robots, although that is a major part, it is also about learning through doing and experiance. It is like a high school football player going and training with the pros, but with engineering. It is definitely something you dont see every day.

Yeah I agree here. I tried to explain FIRST to a couple at Atlanta and spent about 10 minutes at least. It’s hard. You want to explain enough to let them know what they are getting into but you don’t want to talk there head off and scare them off with words.

So since I’m a solution and not into implementing all my ideas I have an idea.

Have a FIRST day. Get some people interested by telling them simply the minimum. Let them show up 20 to 30 minutes early to school one day to tell them what is going on and give them their teams. First is fundraising. Nobody thinks about this but it has to be done. Get some teachers involved and give them Monopoly money. Have the students go to these teachers and give a short spiel or maybe have them do a certain thing to get the money, or a certain amount. Be creative. A couple teacher might want to be complete sponsor but take 4-5 minutes to talk to. Make it difficult but easy enough they can get some money. Fundraising last the school day. At the end of the school day the people meet together and are allowed to purchase lego parts with their monopoly money. Left over can be used to buy additional supplies for team poster, glitter, multi-color marker. Teams without money get to watch, tough, it happens. Current team member(s) will work with the teams for 3-4 hours building and programming a lego robot. At 7 o’clock you will run a short tournament. Teams will get awards for winning or other fun awards. Team spirit a must. This could give newbies a idea of what will happen and could be fun. Set-up could be a lot of work but invite people to come watch your mini tournament and add loud FIRST like music and it could be a lot of fun and helpful to your team.

This reminded me of what a person asked. Someone asked me on the elevator in Atlanta,“Whats a robot?” I was dumbfounded and tried thinking of an answer. Before she got off I told her to go visit the Georgia Dome to see what a robot is.

FIRST is a robotics competition, but it’s really so much more than just that. FIRST is a competition where the things that are learned can be applied to real life. It’s not just the non-quiting spirit you get from sports, but also skills in logic, creativity, and TRUE teamwork. When I say TRUE teamwork, I mean that people work together, not only within their own team, but with people from other teams as well. FIRST is different from almost any other major competition in the way that there is never any booing. It demonstrates a level of sportsmanship that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

In a nutshell, FIRST is a competition of innovation, logic, creativity, and good will towards all.

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I’ve tried to explaini FIRST many times, i’ve come to the conclusion that you need at least 20 minutes or a demonstration. At school, most of my teachers will ask me what the game is (since they’ve noticed i can’t pay attention to anything but robotics:p ) and i always have to get up on the board and draw and label, it’s just too hard to explain. Lucky for us, there’s a regional right near by, so we can invite anyone who’s interested to come watch. This year i went around graffiting teachers’ boards with the time, date and place of the UTC regional and team number soo many came!! Many more watched on the webcast! FIRST is an experience. One of those that is really really really really really really really hard to explain to non-FIRST people, but you MUST TRY!! After all, its the only way to get more people involved.:smiley:

For the past 2 years my goal has been to explain the game in 3 minutes or less to a FIRST novice without their eyes glazing over with confusion. Something that could be handed out at the State Fair, at competitions, at demonstrations. This year I got closer to my goal. I put together a little 1-page brochure “A Guide to the Game,” with a few points about FIRST and a little diagram and a short explanation, much simpler than the FIRST explanation, of the game and a little about Team 007. These were handed out at NJ and Chesapeake, to VIPs and to the public and to the families. I got a lot of positive feedback. I enjoyed doing it because it helped me to condense my spiel and it was nice to have something to give to people. I decided that helping others to try to understand what FIRST is about is one of my favorite things about the program.

Next year’s goal is to be able to explain FIRST (not just the game) in another 3 minutes or less! Wish me luck :yikes:

I think FIRST in many respects, describes itself nicely-

“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”

FIRST in general is a non-profit organization designed to interest students in the real world possibilities of science and technology. However, unlike in a classroom where students are lectured, FIRST allows students to experience first hand what it takes to to design, fund, and manufacture a functional robot in a real-world scenario. By teaming up with teachers, mentors, and engineers, a complete robot must be drawn up and fabricated within 6 weeks with a given kit of parts, a list of acceptable hardware, and limited finances.

After the 6 week build period, robots are shipped off to any of 26 regionals to compete with over 800 teams from around the world. The spirit and commrodery of a FIRST event goes unmatched, as tens of thousands of students and mentors gather for a common goal- to change the perceptions of American life from competative pop culture to cooperative invention and innovation.

this is how i would explain FIRST… FIRST IS LIFE… the time when i joined FIRST which was my freshman year i thought it would be one of my side activities… after experience what FIRST is about… it became my life… nothing in the world can keep me apart from FIRST…


im not sure if this is what you want exactly, but try

and scroll down to the CIA First presentation for a slideshow detailing first.
there are also a couple of essays on first and lego league available there as well :wink:

Last year, I had to give out flyers and try to recruit or at least get some students interested in robotics during registration for the upcoming school year. And so many times I get this question before I even get to explain what it is…

“So, is it a lot like Battlebots?”


I explain the many great aspects of FIRST… from fundraising, to the build season, and especially “gracious professionalism.” I also include a little information about the team, including the places we have competed in the past years (a big bonus with many people). And then I get this response…

“Why PINK?”

That I do not mind talking about. :smiley:

Regardless, it is extremely difficult to persuade several students to join a robotics affilated team that does not destroy other robots. Seriously, there is no easy way to sum up what FIRST is to somebody new. I truely have to agree that they have to experience it. Sounds like taking drugs, and in a way, it is since it I am addicted to FIRST.

Marc P. I think said it best and mechman108 said another often unsaid part of what FIRST becomes. I myself have a 2-3 minute speech on what FIRST is, what is goes, and where the money goes as its usually used in fundraising and then another for recruitment. 2-3 minutes is the most you ever really want to spend explaining ANYTHING you’re doing (including your robot). The game, sadly the most I’ve ever gotten it down two was 5 minutes and that was the 2000 game. But back on topic… usually I start by explaining what F.I.R.S.T.'s acroynm stands for. Then what is its purpose, when the most fun occurs (january we get a new game and then its 6 weeks of designing, building, and then ship) to regional events and a championship event. After that the number of teams there are and where. Anything specific about my team like who we work with, how many students we have, what our latest success is, etc… That usually takes up the time.

The best way is really to find out for yourself. And the best moments, the best parts… never can really be expressed. Like standing at the top of Einstein’s stands when were at Epcot, at KSC’s team party in the Saturn V Center, the crammed pack stands at UCF (did they have the people there that shove as may people as they can onto the stands like they do with subway trains in Japan?)

And 233… you’re the only team that I know of and competed against and with that has pink for team colors… you all stand out from the rest of us.

Oh I forgot that the team also uses a Recruitment Trailer Video that briefly explains several aspects of FIRST Robotics. Visual aids helps a lot. Bringing in a robot and demo-ing is a great way to get students inspired. This is also good for getting sponsors… :wink:

UGH! I know exactly what you mean. I actually put together a video of our 2004 season. Although it does not really describe FIRST, I am finding it to be an amazing recruiting tool. Here is the link…

Gila 2004

I always have to explain to people the fact that the game changes every year, which is hard for them to understand. When they ask what the game is, and I tell them the game, they usually say it’s too complicated (and somtimes I agree). But one of the most common questions I recive is “What sort of weapons does it have?” and when I tell them that there are no weapons, I usually get a “not even a flamethrower?” With all that FIRST has achived, it is still obvious that we need to achive a little more in order for people to understand the reason FIRST was founded.

[quote=CrazyBear]“So, is it a lot like Battlebots?”



I hate being asked this question every time I recruit for robotics. Over half the people at our club day at school first asked either a) what weapons does it have or b) where are the weapons. And I get to the point where I can’t stand it. And then after I explain the game to some, they’re like, "what’s the fun in that, just strap a chainsaw on the back and that[/quote]

would be cool." So then I end up just frustraited. And then sometimes people will ask me how much goes into this, and I explain the long hours and money spent on it ("Hah, I coulda built one better in two days and three hundred dollars, and it would have a chainsaw.[/quote]

Let me try to explain it fast…

FIRST is the scientific and technological equivilant to a football training camp. FIRST is a way of life that takes you over for 6 weeks of the year in designing, programing, and building a robot. And yet while the robot is how the FIRST message of science and technology is delivered, it’s not the main focus; the focus is the inspiration and recognition of science and technology through the robot and mentors from major corporations who help and work with the students. FIRST is so much it’s hard to put it into a paragraph, it must be seen to believed.