Do you find yourself looking for puzzles to complete and have a passion for building? Are ready to take your skills to the competitive level? Learn more here.

The goal is to encourage student participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields with the ultimate goal of training a high-tech workforce for the region.

What is FIRST? 

FIRST (an acronym "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") is a non-profit organization impacting more than 400,000 youth founded by Dean Kamen, a prolific inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology.  

The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, technology, engineering, and math skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.  

These life skills include FIRST concepts of 'Cooperation and Gracious Professionalism'. These stress the importation of competing and doing the best you can, but also helping your fellow teams and respecting individuals and the community. Learn more at

FIRST Technology Challenge (7-12th grade competition) 

It has robots, but it’s way more than building robots! FIRST Tech Challenge teams are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have!” Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles (like keeping an engineering notebook), while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas.  

The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and can be programmed using a variety of languages, including Java. Teams also must raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships.  

High performing teams from Southeast's event can make it to the state championship. Each season concludes with the FIRST World Championship. 


In the FIRST LEGO League competitions, tomorrow’s innovators practice imaginative thinking and teamwork. Guided by two or more adult coaches, FIRST LEGO League teams (up to 10 members, grades 4-8) research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution.

They also must design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, and then compete on a table-top playing field. This includes components of both a robotics competition and an innovation fair. Teams are challenged to work hard but in a supportive environment while having the most fun possible.

High performing teams from Southeast's event can make it to the Eastern Missouri Regional Championship.

Southeast Representatives 

Brad Deken 
(573) 651-2104 

John Dudley 
(573) 576-2741 

Funding Provided 

This product was partially funded by a grant awarded under the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Initiative as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.

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