FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a multi-national robotics competition designed for seventh through twelfth-grade students. It differs from FIRST Lego League (FLL) in the aspects that it involves creating a robot using practical building materials as opposed to Lego bricks, and the transition from coding in Mindstorms to more rudimentary programming interfaces. These competitions provide students with accessible first-hand experiences with the STEM field and teach valuable life skills such as teamwork and professionalism.
As the 2015-2016 FTC season wound down, Penn’s FTC robotics teams became integrated with the IED (Introduction to Engineering Design) and POE (Principles of Engineering) classes. These classes are offered by Penn through Project Lead The Way, an educational organization that creates STEM-related courses for elementary, middle, and high schools. With FTC in a classroom environment, students will be able to collaborate with like-minded classmates and can work in a more focused environment. Furthermore, FTC as a class allows students to earn credits, rewarding them for their efforts and contributions to the team.
Starting in the fall of 2016, freshmen and sophomores attending Penn may choose to take IED/POE exclusively but also have the option to take FTC-IED/FTC-POE during the school day or as a 0-hour course. 0-hour classes meet outside of the school day, either before or after school. Both of these classes are graded on a four-point scale. In addition, due to an overwhelming number of interested students, Penn High School has added two more FTC teams to the existing 4600, 4061, and 6360 teams.