Welcome to FIRST Tech Challenge!
FIRST Tech Challenge teams (up to 15 members in grades 7-12) design, build, program and operate robots to play a floor game in an alliance format. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles while realizing the value of hard work, innovation and sharing ideas.
The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and can be programmed using a variety of languages. Teams also raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to college scholarship opportunities.
The FIRST Core Values
- Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
- Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
- Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
- Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
- Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
- Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
Frequently Asked Questions
FIRST® Tech Challenge is way more than building robots. FIRST Tech Challenge teams (up to 15 team members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format.
Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.
The robot kit is reusable from year to year and can be coded using a variety of levels of Java-based programming. Teams design and build robots, raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards. Participants are eligible to apply for $80M+ in college scholarships.
The really cool thing about FIRST Tech Challenge is being part of a team. All skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical and non-technical. Teams need all kinds of skills to succeed, so what are you good at? Chances are we have a job for you. And we’ll probably teach you a few new ones while you’re with us. Student and adult team members are encouraged to bring any skills they already have, like programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography, and many more. FIRST Tech Challenge welcomes every student, with or without special skills.
The FIRST Tech Challenge season starts in May, when teams generally form and registration opens. Season kick-off is in early September when the season’s game is announced. The design and build season runs from September to January. Generally, tournament season for Colorado begins as early as January and February. Qualifying Tournaments advance teams to a State Championship Tournament, and winners earn spots at FIRST Championship at the end of April. There are also many off-season events where teams participate, strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun!
As a first step, we recommend checking with your local school to see if a team exists or if there is interest in starting one. In 2018-19, 78 percent of Colorado regional teams were affiliated with a high school or middle school. The remaining teams were family/friends/neighbors, homeschool groups or youth organizations.
Although Colorado FIRST does not match children with existing teams or provide team contact information for several reasons,* here are some ways to connect with others:
We recommend checking with your local school to see if a team exists or if there is interest in starting one and with the high school team from your district. Some other options:
• Start your own team; no experience is needed
• Volunteer at FIRST events to meet coaches and mentors
• Share the FIRST for Educators with your school to encourage formation of new teams
• Post on our Facebook Page and ask if coaches have openings
* Teams are structured in a variety ways; some are clubs or after-school programs that meet year-round; others are formed by parents, community organizers or youth groups. For privacy reasons, we are not able to share team contact information.
For more help finding a team, contact Paree Gregg, Colorado FIRST Programs Director.
New teams can expect to budget approximately $2,500 for their first year. Grant information can be found at FIRST Tech Challenge grants. Successive years cost approximately $700. Teams can divide costs among members or secure grants and sponsorships.
First year costs include (prices shown from 2023-2024 season):
- Team registration – $295
- Control and Electrical Bundle – $600
- Robot parts: Individual parts pricing varies or Start-up Sets available $495 – $750 depending on option chosen
- Yearly Game Field Set (OPTIONAL) – $460 full field/$290 half field (plus shipping)
- Field Perimeter Kit and Soft Tiles (OPTIONAL) – $918 (plus shipping)
- Snacks, T-shirts, and travel costs – $400
- In Person Qualifier Tournament entry fee – $175
- Remote Qualifier Tournament entry fee – $50
- Colorado Championship tournament entry fee (if team qualifies) – $200
- NOTE: Teams also need access to a laptop for programming
The robot robot control system, control and communication set, robot parts and field perimeter/soft tiles can be used year after year, but fees for team registration and the challenge set apply each season. See additional information from FIRST.
Teams have about 15 weeks between the challenge release and the season’s first Qualifying Tournament in January. The coach and team can determine just how much time to dedicate. Some teams work on skill building year-round; others may only meet once or twice a week before their event. Because teamwork is so important, parents should arrange to have their child attend most, if not all, team meetings.
Each team attends a full-day Qualification Tournament for a chance to advance to the Colorado State Championship Tournament, which is also a full-day event. Teams can qualify for the FIRST World Championship in Houston, Texas from the Colorado State Championship.
Colorado qualifiers generally take place in January and early February (register through the ColoradoFIRST website). Each team can attend more than one qualifier. Teams have a chance to advance to the Colorado State Championship generally held in February. Teams can then qualify from the Colorado State Championship to the FIRST World Championship in Houston, Texas which is generally held in April.
Contact us for ideas to help you bring the FIRST Tech Challenge program to your students. Use the form in the side bar to let us know you’re interested or contact Paree Gregg, Colorado FIRST Programs Director.
You’ll be surprised how simple and rewarding it is to bring this inspiring program to your school or organization.
7 essential steps to starting a FIRST Tech Challenge team
1. Gather support resources
Familiarize yourself with FIRST Tech Challenge by checking out the materials on our website and social media pages. Then locate your region’s Affiliate Partner or FIRST Senior Mentor. These people know the FIRST teams, participating schools, and FIRST-friendly businesses in your area. He or she can help you form a plan for getting your team funded, organized, and in touch with other teams in the area.
2. Enlist Coaches & Mentors
Each team needs two or more adult Mentors who are willing and motivated to coach the team through the build and competition season and beyond. Other adults can volunteer to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, and other tasks.
3. Register and Pay
Once registered, your team becomes a part of the worldwide FIRST Tech Challenge community. You’ll begin receiving communications from FIRST, along with a temporary team number in preparation for event registration in the fall. Part of the registration process include ordering the kit of parts and completing payment. (Please note that, until you click submit, you are not committed to becoming a team.)
4. Build your team
Find and invite a few students (maximum 15) who want to be part of a robotics team. Be sure to emphasize that no technical skills are required, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Recruit all kinds of talents, not just engineering and electrical.
Your team will need to build a budget and fund their goals. Recruit local businesses to sponsor you. Many of them may already have a relationship with FIRST. We also have many fundraising opportunities you can explore, including grants for both rookie and veteran teams.
6. Learn about safety
At FIRST, student safety is always paramount. Every adult must become familiar with our Youth Protection Program (YPP). Take the time to watch our videos and read our youth protection materials.
7. Review Mentor and Team Resources
FIRST® Tech Challenge 2023-2024 CENTERSTAGESM
Join us for FTC Team Conversations, where you can learn from, share with, and talk to team members from all over Colorado!
- You can find recordings of past Conversations on the Colorado FIRST YouTube channel
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
2023-2024 upcoming event schedule for FTC Team Conversations will start on October 24th and recurring weekly. Links to conversations will be added soon.
In this season 2023-2024 CENTERSTAGESM presented by Raytheon Technologies, FIRST® Tech Challenge teams will raise the curtain on the power of design, creativity, and precision to create all new experiences.
- Game materials such as field piece assembly and field dimensions
- Challenge information and rules
- Robot Building Resources
- Programming Resources
Funding opportunity for teachers in the United States:
Partial funding for FIRST Tech Challenge team materials is available to U.S. public and charter school teachers, thanks to NewsCorp & DonorsChoose.org.