Welcome to Inspire, a blog from FIRST.

After years of inspiring young people, as well as the adults who work with them, we decided it was time to share some of the things that inspire us.

Learn more about Inspire.

Passion for STEM lands two young people White House invite

Feb 10, 2016

It’s not every day you’re invited to the State of the Union Address, much less as a personal guest of First Lady Michelle Obama. So there was no playbook to follow for FIRST Alums Lydia Doza and Oscar Vazquez, as they traveled from their homes in rural Oregon and Fort Worth, Texas, to the White House last month.

Hedgehogs, Flow, and 10,000 hours: Helping young people find their path

Feb 02, 2016 by Mark Greenlaw

As parents and educators, we often have the opportunity to speak with the young people in our lives about their future. We may start with the question “so what do you want to do when you grow up?” which typically elicits responses ranging from a blank stare to a confident pronouncement “play shortstop for the Boston Red Sox.”

Mentors: changing lives, increasing opportunity

Jan 27, 2016 by Mark Greenlaw


January is National Mentoring Month, which provides us with the perfect opportunity to hit the pause button and take a few minutes to reflect on the tremendous impact that adult mentors can have on young people. As with many other youth-serving organizations, volunteer mentors are critically important to our ability to achieve our mission and transform the lives of young people across the world.

The importance of being earnest (about failure)

Jan 20, 2016 by Rachel Holladay, student and research roboticist, Carnegie Mellon University


Adorned on a landscape background, sitting in posters across classrooms, a Thomas Edison quote reads "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."1 It is an inspiring thought that is very easy to say in hindsight. But what if you are on trial #1,912 or #3,504 and all you have faced thus far is failure?

Robotics: The only high school sport where every kid can go pro

Jan 13, 2016 by Ray Almgren, Chairman, FIRST in Texas and Vice President, National Instruments

Recently, Texas joined a growing list of states that have launched initiatives to make robotics a full-fledged sport, accessible to all students. In the following article, Ray Almgren, Chairman, FIRST in Texas and Vice President, National Instruments shares why school-based programs like this are so important to the future workforce of the United States. 

Robotics is the sport for the 21st century.

You don’t have to be COOL to be a STEM Role Model

Jan 06, 2016 by Meagan Pollock, Director of Professional Development, NAPE

I wasn’t particularly cool in high school, though I wasn’t exactly un-cool either. Successfully crossing the boundaries between the jocks, brainiacs, and the student council kids, I made it through mostly unscathed. Being a national champion powerlifter, ranked number 2 in my class, and winning student body President on a platform of “Change” afforded me a semi-safe haven in this liminal state between cool/un-cool. Of course, I wanted to be cool; who didn’t in high school?

Who is ‘Most Likely to Succeed’?

Dec 28, 2015 By Mark Greenlaw

“The purpose of education is to engage students with their passions and growing sense of purpose, teach them critical skills needed for career and citizenship, and inspire them to do their very best to make their world better.”

Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith in “Most Likely to Succeed”

A philosophy to live by

Dec 22, 2015 By Mark Greenlaw

I know exactly where I was on June 24, 2013. I was sitting on my back porch, reading “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman,” by Yvon Chouinard, founder of clothing designer Patagonia. I know this because I was inspired to take a photo of a specific passage from the book with my iPhone (more on that later), which captured the exact date.

A teacher’s gift: The value of extracurricular activities

Dec 15, 2015 by Lisa Siegmann, Assistant Principal of Hunter College High School, NY

I often hear teachers speak passionately about their work in the classroom, but it’s the time spent with young people in extracurricular activities that generates a special kind of reward for students and teachers alike. After classes end, teachers become coaches on the athletic fields, directors from the stage wings, advisors within soup kitchens, and even mentors in robot workshops.

Mastering the learning process

Dec 08, 2015 by Drew McConnell, Manager of Digital Learning, FIRST

I sat down next to Kevin, an intelligent high school junior, in the Introduction to Programming class that I teach. As he stared at the lines of code on his computer screen, I asked him how his video game project was coming along.

"Well I know what I need to do, but I don't know how. You haven't told me how to do it yet," Kevin said.