Iowa well-represented at international FIRST® Championship

FIRST Tech Challenge teams compete at FIRST Championship in St. Louis.
FIRST® Tech Challenge teams compete at FIRST Championship in St. Louis. Among the 700 teams present, 18 of them hail from Iowa and competed at the international event in late April.

The ultimate goal for some 52,000 teams participating in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) across the globe from 86 countries is navigating the qualifying pathway to reach the FIRST Championship held in St. Louis last month.

From Cyprus to Slovenia and 31 other nations, as well as most U.S. states, 700 teams with names like “Bagel-Bytes” and “Techno-Ticks“ converged on the Gateway City for friendly yet intense coopertition®. Eighteen Iowa teams (200 students total) made the trek and exhibited gracious professionalism® against the planet’s top teams, seven of which received high honors, including:

  • Davenport’s FIRST Tech Challenge team, “Combustible Lemons” (Team 5466), received the Inspiration Award, which is the most prestigious award that recognizes the team most exemplifying the essence of the program and is an inspiration to other teams. The team from Davenport West High School is coached by Project Lead The Way instructors Jason Franzenburg and Greg Smith.
  • Davenport’s FIRST Robotics team, “Disruptive Innovation” (Team 6317), received the Rookie All-Star Award.
  • Muscatine’s FIRST Robotics team, “Fire Island Robotics” (Team 6420), received the Rookie All-Star Award.
  • West Des Moines’ FIRST Robotics team, “ICE” (Team 6419), received the Rookie Inspiration Award.
  • Denver’s FIRST Lego League Jr. team, “Cybits” (Team 8126), received the Inquiring Minds Award.
  • Bettendorf’s FIRST Lego League Jr. team, “Team Crusher BOTS” (Team 7586), received the Outstanding Teamwork Award.
  • Camanche’s FIRST Lego League Jr. team, “Bee Builders” (Team 378), received the Amazing Movement Award.

The FIRST organization proclaims that participants are two times as likely to major in a STEM field of study compared to their peers who are not involved in FIRST. The STEM Council has boosted FIRST participation by partnering with the organization through the STEM Scale-Up Program, helping scale FIRST LEGO League across Iowa in 2012-13; FIRST Tech Challenge in 2012-13, 2014-15 and again in 2015-16; and FIRST Robotics Competition in 2016-17 and again for the coming academic year.

STEM Council member and Chairman, President and CEO of Rockwell Collins, Kelly Ortberg, serves as co-chair of the Board for FIRST.  John Deere and Rockwell Collins are Strategic Partners of FIRST as well. More information about the FIRST organization is at or see FIRST in Iowa at Details about Iowa’s STEM Scale-Up Program are at

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