March 1st, 2012

Let the Games Begin! The FIRST® Robotics Competition


Picture this: you’re in a high school gym with hundreds of other onlookers cheering loudly for a team of students. The teams battle against each other to get a basketball through a hoop. Teammates work together as the audience, clad in their team’s colors, scream encouragement.

Sounds like a high school basketball game, right? In fact, it’s the FIRST® Robotics Competition.

Each year, hundreds of students across the country compete in a varsity sport of the mind known as the FIRST Robotics competition. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” In the FIRST Robotics competition, teams of high school students work with mentors to design a robot to compete against other teams in regional and national competitions.

The FIRST organization was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to foster an interest and participation in science and technology. Kamen is the inventor of well known products such as the Segway. Since its founding, hundreds of thousands of students of all ages have competed in various FIRST competitions.

This year’s FIRST Robotics Competition, the Rebound Rumble Game, launched in early January. The task requires teams to build a robot that can put as many basketballs through hoops of various heights in a two minute and fifteen second match. Since the launch, students and their team mentors have been working intensely after school and on weekends during a six-week “build season” to design and construct a robot that is up to the challenge.

Johnson & Johnson is a founding sponsor of FIRST.  The competition is a great example of the way that Johnson & Johnson works to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. A 2005 report from Brandeis University’s Center for Youth and Communities found that FIRST Robotics Competition participants are more than twice as likely to pursue a career in science and technology and more than four times as likely to pursue a career in engineering.

Students from Team Aperture, a FIRST Robotics team from Newton High School in New Jersey, work on their robot for the 2012 Rebound Rumble Game. The team is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Consumer and Personal Products.


Over the next several weeks, we will share some of the voices of the FIRST Robotics competition on JNJBTW. From students to Johnson & Johnson mentors and volunteers, we’ll share how the students prepare for the competition, how Johnson & Johnson mentors work with the teams and most important, what the students learn and gain from the experience. We hope you’ll enjoy learning about the FIRST Robotics Competition and meeting some of the people that make the program so special.

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