HOUSTON – The FIRST Championship is underway in Houston.
About 15,000 students on 700 teams representing 36 countries have descended on the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The headlining series is the high school-level FIRST Robotics but it's not the only part of this championship.
Among the things you'll find on the third floor of the GRB during the next couple days is the FIRST LEGO League.
There, kids as young as 9 years old compete against, not each other, but themselves.
It's all about how well they can design and program a robot to overcome a set of challenges.
"They say ‘Wow, I’m not alone. There are other people like me out there. I can do this. I’m part of a community, this is my tribe and this is what I want to be when I grow up,’” said Mark Greenlaw, FIRST vice president of strategy and marketing.
Just across the way is the next level of competition, the FIRST Tech Challenge. That's where we found Ty Franke and his team "Team Name Wanted, Dead or Alive" from Pasadena, Texas. This group of home-schooled middle schoolers had to compete and win quite a few rounds to make it this far.
“There ... (are) league meets, last-chance qualifier, league championship, regionals, super regionals and worlds, which is where we are now,” Ty said.
And get this: It's their first year ever competing.
“Getting here is all in itself really good,” Ty said.
“We have to maneuver around a bunch of wires and parts and all that,” Nundini Rawal said.
Doing a little trouble shooting, the Mohawk Warriors is another team competing in the Tech Challenge. Hailing from Harmony School in Houston, Rawal, a senior and team co-captain, has been a part of the team since her freshman year. Like many of her peers that involvement has had an impact on her future.
“I’m going to pursue biomedical engineering in college so this has definitely played a big role in my decision,” Nundini said.
“We’re developing the workforce of tomorrow so it’s really important for people to get behind this event and support it and support these teams and these kids that are working on these robots,” Greenlaw said.
All levels of the FIRST Championship are running at the GRB through Saturday and are free and open to the public.