For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (First®):
First®, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a not-for-profit STEM education organization that was founded in 1989. First gives students access to quality and innovative science, technology, engineering and math curriculum that pushes and motivates them to pursue STEM careers.
First® ‘s mission statement reads, “To inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”
First® has reached over 570,000 students in over 100 different countries with the help of their volunteers. Through their educational programs, mentorship and scholarships, they are doing their part in shrinking the gap between available STEM jobs and qualified, employable candidates.
First® and Lego® Education Partnership:
Recently, First® has paired up with the well established Lego® Education to give students a unique STEM experience. Lego® Education uses their playful, colorful Lego bricks as a way to facilitate active learning on complex science, technology, engineering and math concepts. Together, these two STEM driven education companies are helping prepare students, as young as Kindergarten, for the STEM workforce of the future.
According to research done by LittleBits and YouGov, “Providing students with access to core STEM courses as early as elementary school increases interest in pursuing STEM careers.” The First® and Lego® Education partnership includes a FIRST LEGO League as well as a FIRST LEGO League Jr.
FIRST LEGO League Jr: FIRST LEGO League Jr. is for students between the ages of 6 and 10. All children are welcome, despite current technology skill level. The children are taught by adult coaches who follow the First® core values. In the FIRST LEGO League Jr., students are tasked with using legos to create models and then making “Show Me posters” in order to both process and show what they have learned through making the model.
FIRST LEGO LEAGUE:
FIRST LEGO League is similar to FIRST LEGO League Jr. but is for students 7-14. Students are involved in teams which helps improve their collaboration skills alongside their STEM literacy. Through trial and error, engineering, coding and problem solving, participants in the FIRST LEGO League learn to love STEM as they see their skills improve.
“FIRST LEGO League’s positive impact on participants is gratifying and well documented. Over 87% are more interested in doing well in school, and 88% have more interest in attending college,”First Lego League impact page said.
CITY OF THE FUTURE CHALLENGE:
First® and Lego® Education are also giving students the opportunity to see the impact that they could have on the future of their communities. FIRST LEGO League Jr BOOMTOWN BUILD and FIRST LEGO League CITY SHAPER are new challenges that give students the chance to think like engineers and architects.
The challenges are similar but targeted to either the 6-10 or 7-14 age ranges. It stems off of the question, “What if you could build a better world?” Teams of students are tasked with creating a city of the future that is practical, sustainable and caters to the needs of the community and its residents.
The challenge pushes students to adopt a creative, innovative mindset. They receive mentorship throughout the challenge by architects, civil engineers, urban planners and other people who have professions that take part in building up a city. This futuristic challenge allows students to begin thinking about the changes that are taking place throughout the world and gives them the chance to see what jobs will be like when it is their turn to enter into the STEM workforce.
President of LEGO Education Esben Stærk Jørgensen said “No one can predict what the workplace will look like years from now, but we can prepare children today for this uncertainty by developing the skillset they will need. Programs like FIRST LEGO League foster collaboration, resilience and a comfort with STEAM subjects, including coding and robotics. With the addition of FIRST LEGO League Discovery Edition, students at the earliest of ages now have an opportunity to explore and build their confidence in learning from the very beginning.”
The partnership between First® and Lego® Education has the potential to impact the STEM education experience for many kids throughout the United States and even the world. Their unique approach to the curriculum allows students to become active learners who are becoming skilled in tackling real world problems.