• A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST® is a Sport for the MindTM, where young people solve real-world problems and explore science and technology by preparing for and competing in hands-on robotics challenges. • The annual FIRST® challenges for various age groups (grades K-12) culminate in regional tournaments and, ultimately, an international robotics competition and celebration. • Through their FIRST® experiences, young people gain confidence, develop real-world people and life skills, make new friends, and sometimes discover an unforeseen career path.
• In the FIRST® Tech Challenge students design, build, and program their robots to compete on a 12’ x 12’ field, in Alliance format, against other teams. • Robots are built from a reusable platform, powered by Android technology, and programmed using Java. • Teams develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles, such as rapid prototyping. • Awards are given for the competition, as well as community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments. • Students model a real-world engineering process. • Students develop strategic problem-solving, organizational, and team-building skills. • Students learn Gracious Professionalism®.
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MARS (Marion Area Robotics Society) is an extracurricular program at Marion High School, where 45 percent of students receive free/reduced lunch. Although the MARS teams receive some funding from the school district, this funding is not sufficient to cover costs for FIRST® competition registration fees and tournament travel costs as well as costs associated with building robots for competition. Robots can cost about $1,500 each. The three MARS teams welcome support from outside sources.
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