The STEM Education Blog

How to Participate in Robotics Competitions

Sep 2, 2019 12:00:00 PM / by Neal Snapp

Participating in a robotics competition can be a very rewarding endeavor for students of all ages. Not only is it a great experience that they’ll fondly look back on, but it also provides them an opportunity to practice skills such as working with a team, programming, and problem solving.

Before students can start building their robots and competing against other students, they first need to find a competition, look for a team, and contact coaches!

Pick a League

There are a ton of awesome leagues out there, two of the biggest being FIRST and VEX, which are held across the nation and attract a crowd of eager students. Be sure to check out their websites and learn more about what they’re all about. FIRST has leagues for grades K-4, 4-8, 7-12, and 9-12, which makes it very accessible to students of all ages and a great place to introduce kids into the world of robotics competitions. Similarly, VEX has various leagues ranging from elementary school age groups to college teams. There are a ton of other competitions to be found, but FIRST and VEX are some of the most well-known.

Find Nearby Teams

If it’s hard to decide which league in which to participate, the options for nearby teams may help you make up your mind. Because FIRST and VEX are very well-known, there should be team options within several miles of you. The first method of finding teams is through the FIRST Event and Team Search which locates team that are planning to compete in the FIRST competitions. Another option is the VEX Competitions and Teams Map, which serves an identical purpose, but for teams that are seeking to participate in VEX competitions. Be sure to make a list of several teams that you would want to join, then move on to the next step.

Contact Coaches

Most of these teams are managed by coaches, especially in the younger leagues. It’s a great idea to put together a robotics resume simply outlining your experience, if any, in robotics, programming, soldering, etc. Nothing too formal, but enough that coaches have an idea of where you’re coming from and whether you would be a good fit on their team.

Your next step is to reach out to your list of potential teams. Find contact information for coaches or team leaders—email, social media, phone numbers—and let these teams know you’re interested!

Check out the Learn Robotics website and read more extensively about FIRST and VEX, joining teams, and contacting coaches.

Other Ways to Participate

Even if you’re not competing, there are other ways to participate at these events! Volunteering is a great option, be it helping during competition day, signing people in, getting arenas set up, or (if you have some robotics experience) mentoring a team! Check out FIRST’s article and see how you can volunteer at their events.

Whatever your role might be at a robotics competition, whether student, teacher, or parent, it’s a great experience that you won’t regret participating in.

Working with robotics gives students essential skills for their future, but competition isn’t the only way to learn. Download and read our article: Introducing Robotics to the Classroom.


Topics: Robotics, STEM Extracurricular Activities

Neal Snapp

Written by Neal Snapp