What is the time commitment for coaches, volunteers, and team members?
Mentors or adult Volunteers meet with their team at least once per week during the build and competition season (September – April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you can devote to the program.
What kind of computer is needed for a FIRST® Tech Challenge team?
Teams must have access to either a Mac or a PC with an internet connection. Computers will be used for the design process, and for programming the team’s robot. Students will need to use computers for research, the Engineering Notebook, and other awards.
Students will also use the computers during competition, to update or fix potential electrical or programming issues.
What kind of practice space does a FIRST® Tech Challenge team need?
A suitable meeting place and space to design and build a robot about the size of a microwave oven.
Are there any special skills required to participate?
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.
What kind of training resources are needed for FIRST® Tech Challenge coaches and mentors?
How are teams judged at competitions and what awards are there for FIRST® Tech Challenge teams participating?
At FIRST® Tech Challenge tournaments, there are three parts to the judging process:
1) interview with judges;
2) evaluation of performance during the tournament
3) evaluation of the engineering notebook.
Each team will have a ten to fifteen minute “fact-finding” interview with a panel of two or three judges. At the start of the interview, students will get a minimum of 5 minutes to present to the judges. After the Team’s five-minute presentation, the Judges will have the opportunity to ask questions about the Team, the Robot, outreach efforts, etc.
The judges’ interviews take place before any Qualification Matches so the entire team may be interviewed. When teams arrive at the tournament, the interview schedule should be included in the registration materials. Teams must know when they will be interviewed and arrive to the interview room early. Each team should have at least two student team representatives and the robot available; the entire team is encouraged to join
in. Mentors (no more than two) are welcome to watch the Judges’ Interview at most tournaments but cannot take part in the interview.
Teams may not opt out of judges’ interviews. Teams may attend
their scheduled judges’ interviews if their robots have not passed inspection.
Here are additional resources for FTC Tournament judging.
When does FIRST® Tech Challenge happen?
Each September FIRST®, our parent organization headquartered in New Hampshire, provides teams across the globe with a new challenge that focuses on real-world issues that scientists and engineers are facing today. Students work together to design, build, and program their robots, preparing for the competition season that begins around November. Competition season can last through May or April depending on how far the team advances.
How can I find a team to join?
Washington State has between 100 and 200 FIRST® Tech Challenge teams each year. Teams are formed in schools, community organizations, and neighborhoods. They can be formed by any interested adult willing to facilitate the team logistics.
Within Washington, many FIRST® Tech Challenge teams are formed through schools, so the first place to look for opportunities to join a team is with your child’s school. Generally, the school-based teams are open only to students attending that institution because interest often exceeds capacity. If your child’s school does not currently have a team, you may want to work with a teacher or administrator there to help form a team within the school.
Other Washington teams are formed through community organizations such as 4-H, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Boys & Girls Clubs. Generally, this is only one of many activities that the organization facilitates for its members, but if your child is interested in one of these organizations overall, this might be an avenue to pursue in your local area.
The remaining teams in Washington are formed through homeschool groups, religious organizations or neighborhood groups of friends. While these groups are not specifically closed to other students, they do not usually engage in recruiting members.
Since finding an opportunity with an existing team may be difficult, many experienced coaches and parents advise families new to the program to start their own team. The benefits to your child and for those who have an opportunity to participate are well worth the effort. If you need additional resources or encouragement, contact us at FIRST® Washington.
Search for teams near you.
Where can I find more resources for this years challenge?
How do I register my team for FIRST® Tech Challenge?
You begin the two-level registration process with national FIRST® registration. When you complete the short process (around 20 minutes) and pay your registration fee, you will receive:
– An official team number
– Coaches’ Handbook
Fee: $275 per season
Once your team is registered with FIRST® nationally, the coach or team representative must register with FIRST® Washington, your local organization. Washington registration opens in September.
Fee: $925 per season
You can find these steps to register on the Get Started page on this website.
Students must register themselves in the team profile each year, to create a network between all competing members, and to ensure all the necessary paperwork is completed.
Who can coach a FIRST® Tech Challenge team?
Teachers, parents, and technology professionals all make excellent coaches. The coach must be 18 years or older and should have the desire to explore side-by-side with students and have good communication, prioritizing, and multitasking skills. The coach’s role is to facilitate instruction and optimize the learning experience of the team members by allowing independent thought. Direct adult involvement or intervention during the problem-solving process is strongly discouraged.
Coaches handle all the operational details: where and when to meet, organizing help for snacks, team costumes, etc. Coaches do not need technical expertise, but must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of the program.
How do you join an existing team?
If your school or organization has a FIRST® Tech Challenge team, approach the coach and see if there is room for another student and if the deadline has passed.
If your child’s school or organization does not have FIRST® Tech Challenge team, you may want to work with a teacher or administer to help form a team within the school.
How long is the season?
The FIRST® Tech Challenge season kicks off in September, the competition season begins in November and can last throughout April depending how much your team advances.
I can’t find a team near me. Can I start one?
Absolutely, the easiest way to join a FIRST® Tech Challenge program is to start your own team. Ask your principal if your school has a team; if not, encourage your principal to identify a teacher who would be willing to start a team with your help as a team volunteer. Please let your principal know that FIRST® is a collaborative partnership with private industry professionals and educators to inspire young people towards STEM.
If a school-based team is not a possibility, you may find another youth-focused organization that can help. Scouts, 4-H and other clubs may also support FIRST® teams.
What are the minimum requirements for a FIRST® Tech Challenge team?
What does every FIRST® Tech Challenge team need?
– 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, technical advising, and other tasks.
– A suitable meeting place and space to design and build a robot about the size of a microwave oven.
– A standard kit of robot parts and a common set of game and robot rules issued by FIRST® Tech Challenge.
– A budget and a fundraising plan.
The desire to learn, explore, strategize, build camaraderie, share ideas and talents, make new friends, be accepted, and HAVE FUN!