70 volunteers are needed for each day of competition to ensure this event is a success
written by Christina Christopherson, Eastern Washington Regional Coordinator, FIRST WA
FIRST Washington engages youth ages 6-18 in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. Our emphasis is on bringing STEM equity, access, and inclusion to our future leaders. We believe that ALL youth can develop 21st-century workforce/life skills. We’ve grown to serve 15,828 youth through 1,124 afterschool programs with numerous schools bringing FIRST into the daytime classroom with the help of OSPI-approved teacher professional development training and free online curriculum. Our reach is wide and deep, introducing skill sets that Washington employers are seeking.
FIRSTWashington is the largest afterschool STEM program across our state, influencing students across 133 school districts in 34 of Washington’s 39 counties. These students learn valuable workforce development skills but also teamwork, self-confidence, and core values such as gracious professionalism, coopertition (cooperative competition), and respect. Youth will learn how to deal with failure effectively, how to think on their feet, and creative problem-solving. The competitions focus on collaboration and learning to work side-by-side with teammates on intense, real-world challenges, just as they would in the workplace.
Washington’s youth can get involved as young as kindergarten starting with FIRST LEGO League Junior (grades K-4); FIRST LEGO League (grades 4-8); FIRST Tech Challenge (grades 7-12); and FIRST Robotics Competition (grades 9-12). Under the leadership of a coach/mentor, youth form teams, meet regularly to solve a challenge and participate in friendly sports-like competitions throughout the season.
FIRST LEGO League is excited to get their competition season started. Qualifier Competitions begin in December with one of the biggest hosted here in Spokane. This 2-day event will be held at Salk Middle School on December 7th & 8th, with over 30 teams and 70 volunteers each day. These 4-8 graders have been working hard over the past few months on their robot design, coding missions, and a team project. Top teams will advance to the Washington State competition, and top teams will be invited to the World Festival and National Expo. FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifiers start in January and FIRST Robotics Competition Qualifiers Starting in March. The top teams in both programs will also be invited to the World Festival and National Expo in Huston, Texas.
Our vision is for every youth in Washington to have the opportunity to participate in a FIRST program, with the short-term goal of reaching 22,000 youth by 2022. We can’t do it without you. Become a corporate sponsor, start a team as a mentor/coach, or volunteer at a Qualifier. To get involved with FIRST Washington, please visit www.firstwa.org.