Take the FIRST Tech Challenge!
FIRST Tech Challenge teams are part of a rich culture comprised of young innovators, guided by coaches and mentors, who tackle real-world challenges with ingenuity, integrity, and a sense of fun. Resources are available to get your team rolling towards an amazing FIRST Tech Challenge experience. We’re excited to have your team on board!
- Provides a cohesive and comprehensive progression of STEM programs that engage students from pre-school through high school.
- Forges the connection between classroom lessons and real-world application.
- Experience STEM fields as future areas of study and career choices.
- Work side-by-side with mentors from a variety of backgrounds: education, industry, government.
- Get hands-on programming and rapid prototyping experience
- Apply the engineering process and learn to find the opportunity in failure.
- Gain access to over $80 million in FIRST dedicated college scholarships.
- Rise to the top in consideration for college admissions, internships, apprenticeships.
FIRST HQ provides:
- Program information
- Program resources
- Team registration
- FTC Storefront
FIRST in New Hampshire provides:
- Access to FIRST programs in NH
- New Hampshire specific information and grants
- Local Events/Competitions
- Local resources
Finding an existing team
FIRST NH does not place students on teams and FIRST privacy policies prohibit us from sharing coach contact information. Our role is to assist new teams in forming by connecting them to local resources to help them be successful and sustainable. Majority of the teams in New Hampshire are organized through schools, so contact your student’s school to find out if a team exists and how to join. Some 4-H groups, Girl Scout groups, and other 501(c)(3) youth organizations also have teams.
If the team is full or if there is no existing team, we would be happy to assist you with starting a new team. We have grants for school/organization affiliated teams that will cover the new team’s reusable robot kit and season registration fee!
Is there a list of New Hampshire teams?
Visit the NH FTC TEAM LIST to locate area teams.
How to start a new team.
If a team does not yet exist at your school/501c3 organization or if additional teams are needed, use the information under “Register a Team” to get a team started.
Multiple teams out of a given school/organization are welcome and can be eligible for all grants. Visit the GRANTS page for details. As FTC team numbers and kit of parts are reusable year to year, previously existing teams from a given school/organization must be registered for the current season before newly forming teams from that same school/organization can be considered for rookie grant funding.
For the NH Dept. of Education FIRST Robotics grant, teams must be affiliated with an NH recognized public or non-public school, charter, academy.
REGISTER YOUR TEAM
- Register a new FIRST Account – This is a “one time” activity for a new user: https://my.firstinspires.org/AccountManager/Account/Register.
- Log in to an existing FIRST Account – If the user already has a FIRST account, team registration and administration is done by clicking on “Log In”.
FIRST HQ has a grant available to newly forming rookie teams that will cover the team’s $275 season registration fee and provide funds towards the team’s kit of parts purchase. Rookie teams should NOT remit payment for anything until applying for and receiving an award decision on this grant.
Register a New Team (Rookie)
- Check the NH FTC TEAM LIST to see if a team already exists at your school/organization.
- Previously existing teams from a given school/organization must be registered for the current season before newly forming teams from that same school/org. can be considered for rookie grant funding.
- To contact a team: Send email@example.com an email with this request. Please include the school/organization name and the city in the note.
- Registration instructions for Rookie Teams – guide includes screenshots
- Follow the instructions in the above linked guide starting with “Create a FIRST Account” (if needed) up to “Enter the Storefront”. Do not enter the Storefront yet!
- The Team Profile will require that a Team Name is entered. If your team has not chosen a name yet, just put “TBD”. This field can be updated at a later time.
- Complete the “School/Organization” section with your team’s affiliated entity. This is key information for grant eligibility.
- Watch for an email from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ with your temporary team number (starts with 2019).
- Do NOT pay for anything at this point!
- Next step is to apply for the FIRST HQ Rookie FTC Team Grant.
Register a Returning Team (Veteran)
- Registration instructions for Veteran Teams – guide includes screenshots
- A returning team’s team number and Kit of Parts are reusable and retained from year to year. Veteran teams register for the season using their team’s previously assigned team number. Refer to the NH FTC TEAM LIST, linked in the sidebar, for veteran team numbers.
Previously existing teams from a given school/organization must be registered for the current season before newly forming teams from that same school/org. can be considered for rookie grant funding.
Visit the GRANTS site page and follow the steps to apply for the FIRST HQ Rookie Team Grant. Also, review the other grants available to teams, their parameters, and application timelines.
After applying, rookie teams should WAIT to receive word on the grant award BEFORE paying the team’s season registration fee and purchasing the team’s Kit of Parts. Once your team receives a response from FIRST HQ on the grant and, if awarded, sees it available to be applied on the FTC Storefront (online store administrated by FIRST HQ), the team can proceed with equipment order and registration fee/parts payment. Note that the review process for this grant takes around two weeks.
FTC KIT OF PARTS (reusable year to year):
The base FTC Kit of Parts (KoP) is purchased through an online store operated by FIRST HQ called the FTC Storefront.
FTC Storefront: Teams pay their annual FTC registration fee and can order their Kit of Parts through the FTC Storefront. This portal is available on the team’s Dashboard. Under Team Options (left sidebar), click “Payment & Product.
- The FTC Kit of Parts is reusable year to year.
- Veterans may but do not have to order parts.
- FTC Storefront product purchases can be made at any point in the season but are limited to once per season per product category.
- The FTC Storefront opens in a separate tab, pop-ups must be enabled in order for this to occur.
Team Registration Fee: FIRST HQ assesses an annual non-refundable team season registration fee of $275. This fee is payable via the FIRST FTC Storefront.
Kit of Parts:
For newly forming teams, the team’s season registration fee and initial kit of parts cost can be covered by the combination of the FIRST HQ and FIRST NH FTC Rookie Team Grants.
- The team’s affiliated school/district/501c3 organization serve as the team’s fiscal partner and must execute the team’s kit of parts purchase as grant funds cannot be remit to individuals.
- If your team is affiliated with an organization/school with tax-exempt status, have this documentation on hand when placing your Kit of Parts order. Grants for parts will not cover sales tax.
Rookie teams should order:
- Control & Communication Set 2
- Electronics Modules & Sensors Set
- Build Platform (TETRIX or REV)
When selecting a build platform, take into consideration what build platform the teams around you are using (think robot triage).
ORGANIZE YOUR TEAM
What is the allowable team size?
The maximum number of students on a FIRST Tech Challenge team is 15 with an ideal size of 10-12. The small-team concept works well with the platform and encourages a closely knit team where all are engaged. Multiple teams per school/organization are welcomed!
Can 6th grade middle school students be on a team?
Yes! It is the decision of the coach and parent on the fit of the program for a younger student. It’s often best for younger students to be part of a multi-grade team. Younger students benefit from the experience and knowledge of the older students giving older students the opportunity to emerge as leaders and develop mentorship skills.
Registering student team members
Parents register their student with the team through the FIRST Youth Team Registration System. This process includes signing an online FIRST HQ Consent and Release forms. Once this is completed, the Coach accepts the team members and creates a Team Roster which is printed to turn in when checking in at events. If parents are unable to complete the process electronically, there are paper forms available online to print and sign.
Is one coach/mentor enough?
Every team is required to have two registered adult coaches who have completed the FIRST Youth Protection screening process. Any adult can be a coach – teacher, parent, industry professional, college student. Training sessions, workshops, and a supportive FIRST community are available to help get new coaches/mentors up to speed. The scope of the roles is at the discretion of the coaches.
What is the role of a mentor?
Mentors provide assistance to teams, at one or more meetings, in their particular area of expertise. They provide valuable one-on-one interaction and serve as a resource in their specialty. Mentors with skills in these areas are helpful, but not mandatory: engineering, programming, tool skills, electrical, build, CAD, business, marketing, communications, administration.
Where can we find mentors?
Approach area businesses for in kind donations in the form of mentorship. Parents of team members can take on a mentorship role in support of the team. Ask teachers or other volunteers in your area to help with aspects of your team. Reach out other local FIRST teams; their experience and knowledge base can be a tremendous resource.
Do coaches/mentors need to have a technical background?
A technical background is helpful, but not necessary. Mentors can be brought in to help with the technical aspects of the team. Coaches must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of programming and robot building. The FIRST Tech Challenge Mentor Manual, available on the FIRST HQ site, is a great resource which provides a foundation of knowledge and ideas designed to assist mentors in all aspects of the program.
Where do teams meet?
Teams can meet anywhere that is appropriate and safe such as a school, homes of team members, meeting hall, or a sponsor provided location. It is important to set a regular schedule and procedure for team meetings. Things to look for in a meeting site:
- Safe work space large enough for the team members and their equipment
- Safe area for tool usage
- Flexible meeting hours
- Internet Access
- Secure place to store equipment
- Work tables and chairs
- Share host duties, if possible
What is the time commitment?
Teams will need to arrive at their own optimum time commitment, but generally teams meet 2 to 3 times per week for 2-3 hours per session. Additional meetings are usually planned as competition time approaches. Many mentors report that the “push” to meet more comes from the team members!
What is a typical team budget?
Sample team budget worksheet for both rookie (tab 1) and veteran (tab 2) teams: Team Budget Worksheet.
What part of the costs do the rookie team grants cover?
The combination of FIRST HQ and FIRST New Hampshire Rookie Team Grants covers a team’s initial start up costs, purchased through the FTC Storefront, which includes the annual team registration fee and kit of parts purchase. A team must be affiliated with a school or established 501c3 organization to be eligible for the FIRST in New Hampshire FTC Rookie Team Grant.
How do teams find funding?
Teams are encouraged to take responsibility for their budget. Many teams engage in fundraisers and reach out to area businesses for sponsorship in order to sustain the team.
Have the parents of team members check with their employers as many companies offer grant funds for youth STEM programs where employees are actively involved.
Sponsorship isn’t limited to financial contributions. It can also include mentorship and in kind donations of equipment or work space. This connection between the team and the community is a unique aspect to FIRST.
Recognize team sponsors by including their company name and logo on the robot, pit area, team shirt, social media, etc. Sponsors often visit and volunteer at events; take the opportunity to meet them and say thank you!
What is the FIRST New Hampshire FIRST Tech Challenge season timeline?
|September||Season Kickoff & Game Reveal|
|September – early November||Build and Practice|
|mid October||Sign up for an official event|
|November – January||Competition season – Scrimmages & Qualifiers|
|February||New Hampshire FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship*|
|April||FIRST Championship, Detroit!*|
*State Championship and FIRST Championship are advancement based. Separate event fees will apply.
What is the yearly game challenge?
The challenge is the annual game that FIRST HQ reveals to the teams each September at kickoff. Teams determine their strategy then design, build, program, and test their robot to meet the challenge. Working through the engineering process brings the reality of science and technology to students on a more hands-on level while instilling teamwork values.
Teams can access game rules and specifics at https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/ftc/game-and-season. Knowledge is power!
Do teams need a playing field and game sets?
A FIRST Tech Challenge “playing field” is comprised of three parts: a 12’X12′ perimeter, 36 Soft Tile mats, and a “game set”. The perimeter and mats stay the same year to year. The game set changes to reflect the season’s theme. The official FIRST Tech Challenge playing field is available from AndyMark, a FIRST certified vendor.
Most teams procure a few Soft Tile field mats and a partial set of game elements for testing purposes. FIRST HQ has plans for constructing a low cost perimeter. Local sites with fully outfitted playing fields often host open practice times for area teams.
What kind of tools are needed:
Recommended but not limited to:
- Allen Wrench, 7/64″ & 1/8″
- Wrench (open end / box end), 5/16″ & 1/4″; Hacksaw,
- 32 tooth blade; Hand Files (flat and round); Wire Strippers;
- Wire Cutters; Needle Nosed Pliers, Powerpole crimper. tape measurer. Additional helpful tools: Soldering Iron; Jigsaw; Drill; Heat Gun; Extra Vise Grip.
Can we use parts outside the standard FIRST Tech Challenge Kit of Parts?
Yes, but always check the rules! FIRST New Hampshire recommends that teams use the TETRIX platform as their build kit. Allowable parts and season specific equipment information can be found in the annual Game Manual and the Legal/Illegal Parts List. See the RESOURCES page for a list of commonly used parts vendors.
Is there curriculum?
Yes! FIRST HQ has developed free curriculum which is available to all teams: FIRST Tech Challenge Curriculum. It can be used as a stand-alone course or as a supplement to areas where the team needs extra support.
Are there learning materials available?
Yes! The FIRST HQsite has many helpful resources:
How do the robots communicate?
Teams communicate and control their robots with a W-Fi Direct point-to-point connection between their two Android devices (smartphones) powered by Snapdragon processors. One of these phones is mounted to the robot; the other serves as the driver’s station. The driver’s station phone is wired to one or two driver controlled Logitech Gamepads.
What programming language can be used?
Android’s native programming environment is Java. Java is the primary language used in application development giving FIRST Tech Challenge team members 21st-century applicable skills. Teams can choose from several programming environments:
Where do we start?
Get familiar with the platform by having your team build and program the Basic Bot. There are guides available for both TETRIX and REV build platforms. Basic Bot is a small robot that consists of a simple chassis and arm. There is accompanying Blocks code that can be downloaded. Build Basic Bot and see what it can/can’t do as it plays the season’s game – then watch the innovation begin!
What is the purpose of the Engineering Notebook?
A goal of FIRST Tech Challenge is to recognize the engineering design process and the team’s journey through its phases. The Engineering Notebook should document the team’s progress throughout the season. At events, judges will review the notebook to better understand all aspects of the team. It is a mandatory element for several judged awards.
How do we create an Engineering Notebook?
Use the Engineering Notebook Guidelines doc to help your team create a successful and effective engineering notebook. Consult the FIRST FTC HQ site for more Engineering Book Resources, including team notebook examples.
What do we put in our Engineering Notebook?
Ask these questions at the beginning of each meeting: “What are we going to do today? What are our goals?”
At the end of the meeting, teams should answer: “What did we learn today? What do we need to do at the next meeting?”
These answers can be in words, photographs, or sketches. This is the beginning of a great Engineering Notebook!
Engineering Notebook Tips.
- Work on your notebook as you go. A notebook doesn’t have to be a professional-looking, “finished” document. It’s important just to write things down. But, waiting until just before the team’s event to work on your notebook will mean scrambling to finish and it will be difficult to remember everything the team did up to that point in the season.
- Be organized: Date all entries, number the pages, make a Table of Contents, put tabs on some pages to mark different sections or topics.
- Make sure your notebook has a cover page with the Team Number and Team Name clearly visible.
- Consult the Engineering Notebook Self Reflection Guide early and often.
Are there places we can go for help?
There is a season kickoff event hosted by FIRST NH that coincides with the official FIRST Tech Challenge game announcement in early September. This event includes workshops and a reveal of the season’s game. Kickoff events provide a great chance to network with area teams for ongoing season support. See the EVENTS site page.
Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition are bedrock tenets of FIRST. Reach out to your local FIRST community; a valuable source for information and support. Need an introduction? Email email@example.com with your request and we’ll be happy to make the connection.
What does the competition structure look like in New Hampshire?
FIRST NH’s competition
Will there be an event in my area this year?
There will be events throughout New Hampshire. Events are posted on the EVENTS site page and the FIRST HQ website.
How many events does a team participate in?
Each team must participate in at least one FIRST New Hampshire official event. Teams will have an opportunity to compete in more than one event. Possible event types:
- Scrimmages: Non-official events; smaller scale; variable format. Teams can play in as many as they want. Great way to experience the game, shake down the robot, and network with other teams. Scrimmages are usually run by teams.
- Off Season events: A chance for teams to play more! These non-official events follow are a hybrid scrimmage/qualifier, but without Judging and an advancement component. Usually held in May.
- Qualifiers: Official events that advance a set number of teams to the New Hampshire FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship. Participation in one is mandatory, 2nd qualifier is optional.
- League Pilot: Official event. New this season. Pilot partnership with Oakland Schools. Teams compete in at least 3 league meets and one League Tournament.
- Michigan FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship: Official event. Advances a set number of teams to the FIRST Championship.
- FIRST Championship: FIRST’s flagship event held in Detroit in 2017-2019!
Is there a cost to compete in an event?
For FIRST in Michigan, the event fee comprises the budget for the event host. Qualifier event fee is $100 and the Michigan FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship event fee is $150. Payment is usually remitted at event check-in.
How does our team register for an event?
For FIRST Tech Challenge, event registration is done at the local level, and not with FIRST HQ. The EVENTS site page provides in depth information on the process.
Teams will see their confirmed event placement(s) in the MI FTC TEAM LIST, and not on their Team Dashboard.
Why are there Judged Awards at events?
Judged awards represent another positive way to recognize teams that embody important values like teamwork, creativity, innovation, and the value of the engineering design process. At competition, all teams rotate through one 15 minute judging session. These judging sessions enable students to practice and hone presentation and public speaking skills.
What do teams bring with them to Judging?
Teams bring their robot (not powered), Engineering Notebook, Control Award Submission Sheet, all team members. Some teams also bring display boards depicting their engineering process, team outreach, other items/activities of note.
Can coaches/mentors attend and speak during the Judging session?
Two coaches/mentors may sit in on the team’s Judging session but they must stay in a designated area and may NOT speak during the Judging session. It will reflect negatively on a team if a coach/mentor does not abide by these guidelines.
Are any Judging resources available?
Judging Self-Reflection Rubric. The Judges Manual is posted on the FIRST HQ website and is open source to teams.
What are the FIRST Tech Challenge Awards?
Synopsis of FIRST Tech Challenge Awards. Dean’s List is not awarded at FIRST in Michigan FIRST Tech Challenge events as candidates must be high school students. Optional awards are at the discretion of the event host. Game Manual 1 has a section dedicated to Judging and Award Criteria.
How do teams advance to States and the FIRST Championship?
Teams are eligible for advancement at any one of the first two Qualifier events in which they participate.. Each event has a designated number of advancement spots to the FIRST New Hampshire Tech Challenge State Championship. From States, teams can earn one of the designated advancement spots to FIRST Championship-Detroit.
FIRST HQ has established an Order of Advancement which is documented in Game Manual 1.