FIRST Tech Challenge

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.

LEARN MORE

What are the basics of the program?

In FIRST Tech Challenge middle and high school students and their adult mentors work  together to design and build a robot using a kit of parts and a common set of rules to play a sophisticated field game. The robot game changes every season and is a blast!

FIRST rewards teams for achievements both on and off the field—excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, Gracious Professionalism® and outreach efforts are some of the award criteria.

Game play comes during meets, qualifying tournaments and championship tournaments.  Teams in Missouri and Kansas may play in any qualifier.  Select the date and location that works for your team. Teams advancing from qualifiers go directly to the State Championship.

Teams also may play in any meet, an optional short, robot-play-only event that can help with the iterative design process. Teams can participate in up to two meets anywhere in either state. Teams advancing from meets go to a Conference Qualifier for a chance to advance to the State Championship.

When advancing from meet play to Conference Qualifiers, each team has a conference designation based on their geographic location. The Kansas City region falls within the West Conference Qualifier.

How do I get my child on a team?

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 Kansas City regional teams were affiliated with a high school or middle school. The remaining teams were family/friends/neighbors, homeschool groups or youth organizations.

Although FIRST Tech Challenge in Kansas City does not match children with existing teams or provide team contact information for several reasons,* here are some ways to connect with others:

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 FIRST Tech Challenge Coordinator Phil Wood at gst-pwood@kcstem.org.

What does it cost?

FIRST Tech Challenges expenses and fees are at a team level, with highest costs in year one when purchasing reusable components for the robot.

Estimated year-one costs for a rookie team in the Missouri/Kansas system would be about $2,250.

  • $275 for national registration (rookie grants available)
  • $725 for Kit of Parts, Control Set, Electronics Set (rookie grants available)
  • $225 flat season fee for 2 meets and 1 qualifier
  • No entry fee for Conference Qualifier (earned advancement)
  • $150 entry fee for State Championship (earned advancement)
  • $2,000 Entry fee for Worlds Championship (earned advancement)
  • Additional funds for travel expenses, T-shirts, etc.

Returning teams do not need to spend the $725 for parts.

See more pricing information on FIRSTInspires.org.

What is the time commitment?

The number and structure of team meetings vary widely. Some teams are before or after school clubs. Some teams may be part of classroom curriculum. Independent teams of friends or neighbors may meet on weekends only.

Mentors or adult volunteers meet with their teams at least once per week during the build and competition season (September-April). Many longstanding teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You have the flexibility to decide how much time to devote and how to structure team meetings.

As a team member, the same applies. Students meet at least once per week from mid-September through April. Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become at your task(s).

What is the season timeframe?

See the global FIRST Tech Challenge season timeline and our FTC Partner competition overview.

Locally, the season timeline follows this schedule:

May through October: National registration open
Sept. 7, 2019: Kickoff and game reveal
Sept. 21, 2019: KC Training Camp
November through January: Meets
December and January: Qualifiers
Early February: Conference Qualifier*
Early March: Missouri State Championship*
April 15-18, 2020: FIRST Championship in Houston, Texas *

* Limited number of teams, invitation based on advancement criteria

 

Where are the teams in the area?

Find the 2018-2019 Participating Schools and Organizations in the column labelled FTC.  This lists includes public and private schools as well as other organizations fielding a FIRST Tech Challenge team.

You also can search www.firstinspires.org for FIRST Tech Challenge teams in Kansas and in Missouri. This listing can also be filtered by zip code.

How can schools or youth organizations participate?

Contact us!

We would love to help you bring FIRST Tech Challenge to your school or organization. Use the form in the side bar to let us know who you are and we’ll be in touch. You’ll be surprised how rewarding it is to bring this inspiring program to your school or organization.

What scholarship and other benefits are there?

Many colleges and universities, professional associations and corporations offer college scholarships to high school students on FIRST teams. This is official recognition of the knowledge and technical and life skills these students gain from participating in FIRST competitions.  In addition, FIRST can be helpful in gaining admittance into highly competitive STEM programs.

To learn more about post-secondary STEM programs and scholarship opportunities, check these resources:

FIRST Scholarships

Career and Post-Secondary Websites

START A TEAM

Why should I start or coach a team?

You’ll be a difference maker. The positive effect FIRST Tech Challenge brings is gratifying and well documented. Over 86 percent of participants have more interest in doing well in school and 87 percent are more interested in attending college.  See the details.

In addition:

  • FIRST makes starting a team easy and other “competing” teams WANT to help you start a new team.
  • You’ll learn a TON while helping kids learn even MORE.
  • Other teams and coaches are fun and excited about what you are doing.
  • Every team wins every year, because what you learn is yours forever.
  • If your kids are coming from FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge is the logical next step.
  • A new FIRST Tech Challenge team helps position your kids for a FIRST Robotics Competition team if they want that.
  • There is an awesome FIRST Tech Challenge team community in Kansas City committed to helping you be successful.
  • It’s really fun!

What do I need to start a team?

  • Two or more adult mentors who are willing and motivated to coach the team through the build and competition season (and beyond!).
  • Other adult volunteers 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!

FIRST has a page dedicated to helping you Start a Team.

What skills are needed?

All skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical and non-technical. Teams need all kinds of skills to succeed.

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 is the team registration process?

To register as a FIRST Tech Challenge team, the team’s lead coach or coordinator must create an individual coach profile and a team profile on the national www.FIRSTInspires.org site.  Start here to set up your account and your team account. (See an overview of the process here.)

National registration requires payment of the $275 fee (don’t forget to check for grant opportunities first) through your team account on FIRSTInspires.org.

Registering your team makes you a part of the huge FIRST Tech Challenge community. You’ll begin receiving communications from FIRST, along with a temporary team number in preparation for event registration.

You will also receive communications from our FIRST Tech Challenge Regional Partner in St. Louis (watch for emails from this address: FIRST Tech Challenge – Missouri <ftc@stlfirst.org>) about how to register for local and regional tournaments.

Note: The national team registration fees and process do not include local tournaments.  Local tournaments are paid and registered separately after receiving information from ftc@stlfirst.org. To register for local events, two adult coaches must complete the Youth Protection Program.

What grants and team resources are available for starting a team?

Grants for FIRST Tech Challenge teams are available both nationally and locally.

They include:

For details, go to This Season’s Grant Opportunities Section of the Portal page.

FIRST VISTA AmeriCorps members and FIRST Kansas City’s Senior Mentor also can help with team visits, one-on-one assistance and locating resources, both technical and otherwise.  Find their contact information here.

Who do I contact for additional support in starting a team?

To contact us directly for additional support, complete the “Have a Question or Comment” section on the side of this page and check “I want to form a team.”

Or contact FIRST Tech Challenge Coordinator Phil Wood directly at gst-pwood@kcstem.org.

We look forward to helping you!

UPCOMING FIRST TECH CHALLENGE EVENTS

Sep 07

FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff

September 7 @ 9:00 am - 1:30 pm
Sep 21

FIRST Tech Challenge Training Camp

September 21 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Oct 28
Nov 02

FIRST Tech Challenge Meets (De Sion)

November 2 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Nov 09

FIRST Tech Challenge Meets (Heritage Christian)

November 9 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm