One of the best parts about FIRST robotics programs is the competition experience - not just the field matches, but what goes on around the field: the costumes, the music, the dancing and singing, the cheers, the team spirit, that wild and wonderful and goofy FIRST Fan Frenzy that makes it all so amazing, the more so when you remember everyone's Making it Loud for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math!
The whole point of the #MakeItLoud movement at FIRST is to help bring to life founder Dean Kamen's vision that we get what we celebrate, and if we celebrate science and technology learning like we do sports and entertainment, we'll get the science and technology leadership and capability that we need for a better future for all of us.
Big ideas, but the way to that future is energetic, fun and exciting! Read on for some tips on how you can #MakeItLoud for your teams and programs!
FIRST is a STEM education program that uses robot challenges to build science and technology skills and interests for youth ages 6 to 18, in a character driven program designed to inspire self-confidence, leadership, and life skills . With support from a bunch of generous Fortune 500 corporations, educational and professional institutions, foundations, and individuals, FIRST provides more than $22 million in college scholarships to high school kids in the program, and serves over 400,000 students in 80 countries. The suite of programs includes FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO®League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Visit USFIRST.org for more information nationally.
- How to Start a FIRST Team
- Community Networking for FIRST Teams
- Competition Readiness for FIRST Teams
- FIRST Mentoring: Volunteering with Impact
- FIRST Teams Guide to Effective Outreach
- Hosting a FIRST Meet & Greet
Step 1: Show Your FIRST Pride!
On stickers, banners, team shirts, pit and your robot, show people you're part of FIRST and proud of it!
Step 2: Show Some Style!
Dress LOUD! Find some aspect of your team name or culture and #MakeItLoud with costuming, hats, hairstyle or dance moves! Even naturally quiet teams can find some way to express themselves in a spirited way. The FIRST LEGO League team I mentored years ago was comprised of the quietest group of kids I'd ever met. Great designers, builders and programmers, they looked like deer in the headlights when we went to our first competition and were greeted with a wall of cheering, costumed competitors.
They just weren't naturally given to overt signs of enthusiasm though, so we hunted about for other ways to express their hidden enthusiasm. The team's name was Team Mu - which sound a bit like "moo" so they went with the aliteration, adopted a black and white spotted team shirt and selected the cow bell as their voice.
They loved ringing those cow bells, and started getting high marks for team spirit, even though they rarely said a word!
There's lots of ways to find your team style.
Step 3: Have a Mascot or Eye Catching Theme!
Mascots are just fun. Every good sports team has a mascot and every FIRST team should, too! Your mascot can be expressed through costuming, bought or made. When a mascot stands up in the stands, everyone knows what team it represents, and the mascot's team feels the pride and fun of having their own representative icon.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just eye catching. Here in Florida, everyone knows the Ninjineers, because all the members are basically mascots, dressed alike in ninja warrior fashion. Other local teams go for a Steampunk look, or a 50s style theme with slicked hair and leather jackets. Everyone of them is identifiable immediately and helps #MakeitLoud everywhere they go.
Step 4: Represent With Flags, Buttons & Banners!
Here's one area where STEM becomes STEAM - someone(s) has to create your costuming, flags, banners and buttons. Get creative! Buttons are often the main swag at events, so plan to have plenty of them. Flags are great to display at the back of the stands (don't block others' views) and are used during matches to identify teams.
Step 5: Move It, Move It, Move It!
It's not just a robotics event, it's Zumba and phys ed and line dancing. Have fun with it!
Step 6: Know Your Dance Moves!
FIRST has a whole culture of line and group dancing, and, in Florida, mass air guitar concerts are popular. The line dances can include, in no particular order:
- Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody or, increasingly since 2013, the FRC Rhapsody version
- Cotton Eye Joe
- The Macarena
- Electric Slide
and a bunch of others. Get up to speed coaches and mentors! Teams like to see you out there, too!
Step 7: Sing Together!
Belt it out loud, and the more dramatically and over the top, the better! This is a celebration of science and technology gone wonderfully mad and memorable. In football, you have huge half time shows. In FIRST, *you're* part of the half time show. Enjoy it!
The great thing is, you don't have to be a good singer because no one can hear you over all the racket anyway - so go for it! It's like singing alone in your car - with a thousand other people singing alone in their cars together!
Step 8: Cheer Loudly!
Yell! Applaud! Cheer on your team, sure, but more importantly, cheer on your *Alliance*. The whole point of FIRST is that you compete collaboratively. There's a few teams out there who like to say they won an event, or that they're state or "world" champions.
Guess what? In FTC and FRC, no one wins alone! Your Alliance wins - all three of you, together. So recognize that group effort and cheer everyone on together!
Step 9: Congratulate Each Other!
High fives and group hugs all around! Come on - show a little love for your fellow team mates!
Show that love even - and this is super important - when the match didn't go as you'd hoped. It's okay. It's just a game, and encouraging one another during down times is as important, if not more important, that cheering crazily when you do well, because it's pretty likely you'll do well less often than you won't do well.
Step 10: Congratulate Others!
Congratulate your alliance partners, and your opponents. Congratulate award winners and high five those who didn't do so well. Being generous with your support and encouragement is one of the things that makes you a Gracious Professional and will hold you in good stead your whole life.
Step 11: Have Fun!
When all is said and done, to #MakeItLoud is to Have Fun! FIRST is intended to be a warm, welcoming, inclusive and supportive community for everyone, and it's up to each of us to help build and sustain that community.
Making events fun and enjoyable for everyone, by singing and dancing together, celebrating wins together, and taking losses in good humor, and generally helping make all FIRST events big celebratory parties for science and technology puts FIRST Fans in a category all by themselves.
When we do the wave at a FIRST event - it's the Wave of the Future!