FIRST Global – Connecting the World’s Youth During the Pandemic

FIRST Global is a small not-for-profit organization that found a way to connect the world in huge and positive ways during a time when responses to the COVID-19 pandemic required distancing and isolation. When many nations were looking inward, FIRST Global was finding new ways for 1,000+ of tomorrow’s leaders to communicate, cooperate, and work together.

At a time when we collectively reflect on the events of 2020 and find so many distressing stories, FIRST Global provides a light that inspires and reassures that there are a lot of good things happening in the world.

“Unfortunately there’s no shortage of problems in the world, but fortunately there’s no shortage of innovation as well. All we need to do is connect the two and focus the energy of creativity in solving those problems, and that’s what I hope we are able to do at XPRIZE and with the communities we are building and with partners like FIRST Global.” – Anousheh Ansari, First female private space explorer, CEO of XPRIZE, and FIRST Global Member

Like so many other organizations, the global spread of COVID-19 made FIRST Global rethink how they can achieve their objective—to make science and technology available to youth all around the world. Unable to hold an in-person Olympics-style robotics competition this year, they instead created a virtual series of social media and technical challenges, STEM talks, and educational resources to keep the excitement around their program thriving—and it worked!

They received commitments from 175 national teams, including one representing refugees, to participate in the 2020 FIRST Global Challenge. From July through September, students from around the world connected with each other and showed that, not only do they have the power to overcome, but that they are ready to become the future we need to solve the world’s greatest challenges.

One of many such examples includes when students combined their voices in a video titled We Are the Generation. In another video, teams each created part of a Rube Goldberg-inspired mechanism that, when combined, makes a Glorious Global Motion Machine that connects the globe.

“What FIRST Global is trying to do is to say to all of these kids who are imagining fantastic solutions to problems and imagining a better world, ‘You bring your imagination, enthusiasm, and vision of the future to the table, and we’ll bring the tools to make it a reality’.” – Dean Kamen, FIRST Global Founder

The season concluded on October 31st with a celebration of the achievements and recap of challenges. You can view the sizzle reel of the concluding event and the full three-hour celebration.

While all of this content captures the incredible engagement over the last four months, FIRST Global is a year-round phenomenon as students continue to learn, grow, and build up STEM initiatives in their communities. Many teams are extending their impact by pursuing further education and outreach efforts.

We need to make a global generation that works together to build the future. By showing the world this is possible, FIRST Global can continue to inspire changemakers who will serve as catalysts, expanding their impact exponentially around the globe and creating a better future for all.

“Right now is the era of the dreamer. Right now is the era of the problem-solver. The world is being transformed right now, whether we like it or not. And we could sit around and wait for someone else to design it for us, or the youth — you guys — could prepare yourselves to be the architects of tomorrow.” –, Musician, tech entrepreneur, philanthropist, and FIRST Global Member

For full details on the season and the journey and achievements of the students, visit

FIRST Global’s mission is to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations in order to increase understanding, instill the importance of cooperation, address the world’s most pressing issues, and improve the quality of life for all. By showing the youth of the world that if they communicate, cooperate, and work together – even in a competition – using the tools of science and engineering to find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, they will be able to accomplish great things and become part of a truly global community.