My name is Jack Ryan and I am a member of FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Team #7350 "WATT NXT".  The FIRST organization holds robotics competitions using lego mindstorms kits at four different age appropriate levels for kids from elementary to high school.  Highschool upperclassmen teams can learn advanced engineering concepts to build sophisticated robots.  My team and I would like to help boys who are interested in computers and technology to join in at their level on the fun of building and programming their own robots and competing with other teams locally and even up to the world championships level. 

We are in New Jersey but we can supply information and resources to help boys and their families on how to get involved. There is likely a team close to you  or we will help boys start a team with their friends. We can help with all sorts of questions and teach kids how to get started programming and CAD drawing their robot for example.   It is great way to learn techie things (STEM, project management and public speaking) while having fun, and although it looks complicated, is not at all hard to do. 

If you have a family member who might be interested we would be happy to connect with you or them to provide more information.  FIRST which is founded on the idea of gracious professionalism has a website at FIRST Organization

Hope to hear from the curious and the lego or robot obsessed

best wishes Jack

jack.ryan3456 at gmail period com  :-)

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Hi Jack,

My son with DMD participated in this last year (middle school, age 13 then) and had a great time. The final competition was really exciting for them. I recommend it to all, as long as the non-DMD kids involved don't try to "take over", unless asked for help. Thank you for taking on this initiative.


p.s. Girls may be interested too!

Thanks Ms. Cleary,

Our team started last year so we were most likely playing the same game.  I am 14 this year so we are also ~ the same age.   We try to practice Gracious Professionalism as a team at all times, our coach's mantra is "we practice like we play - Gracious! It's what the FIRST organization is built on - GP. To me that means listening and incorporating other team members ideas and work with mine. Everyone in our team, both boys and girls, has a job and contributes equally and everyone gets to participate in all aspects, learning to program the robot, building parts etc.  We are proud of that.

We really would like to connect with a new team member or two from NJ, or anywhere really (via computer), to help our team better understand about how boys (and girls) live with lifes obstacles.  The FIRST robotics program has made a huge difference in our lives, has made learning STEM fun, and we want to share that. If your son would like to chat about his experiences I would be really happy to meet him.  Please pass on my email address and thank you so much.


Jack Ryan

For some reason your link is broken... Here it is... http://www.usfirst.org

Thanks David, I don't know why, but you fixed it. 

There are other links that might be of interest. -- 

This link lists the 4 different program levels which depend on age.     http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms      and might help parents and kids choose a commpetition level that benefits them the most. I am 14 and I think for me the sweet spot is the FTC competition. Plenty of matches, right length season and build period, not too hard challenges in learning RobotC programming for me. Since the competition requires a team approach there is usually a place in any team for whatever level of input you can manage. My dad says "you get more out of it than what you put in with a team approach". 


We are going to visit an event in Sacramento CA in a few weeks to see if this is something we like. He is long time Lego guy but is worried that the mindstorm stuff is too hard. I'm sure he'll come m around.

Thanks thats great David,  I'm glad.

this link has the dates and calendar for the NoCali area FIRST events.  http://www.playingatlearning.org/activities.html

I guess we are pretty similar,  When I started in the First Lego League I also previously had some lego kits that I had built and made stuff from leftover parts. I invited my best friend Fabio to be on the team with a few kids I didn't know from my neighborhood. I met Megan and Megan's dad was the coach. We learned NXTG language from online tutorials. It was easy enough. We had good success that first year and got to the NJ State finals. We got hooked on Robotics. We have learned a lot since then. I think we have a pretty good team. 

We will be more than happy to help get you started and give advice about how to organize. Or anyone else too.  We have a great team where everyone does each aspect, two great coaches and several assistant coaches who can help with any problems. I think we could even run a skype session for you to help learn programming and suggest online links. For example I spent two weekends learning Robot C language and I wrote my first program to remote control the robot in one afternoon. 

If you do find it is interesting at Sacremento I would suggest purchasing a Mindstorms NXT kit and that is how to start learning. Even if you don't get involved with FIRST this is fun, you can build a lot of things and learn a lot with lego mindstorms.  And we can still help with any issues and learning how to write programs to get the most out of the mindstorms set. There is always time to join a team later as FIRST is for all levels and all abilities. 

best of luck in Sacremento.  

Sincerely Jack

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