MILWAUKEE — For some kids, learning about math and science is the most boring part of their school day. For others, it sparks a part of their imagination they never knew existed. 

Young students across the country and in Wisconsin are broadening their interest in science, technology, engineering and math through a nationwide program called FIRST. It stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Fifteen-year-old Toby Morris is one of those young students. When he isn’t hitting the books at Golda Meir, he’s building robots.

“I would say I love designing the robot and it’s just really fun to see everything come together,” Morris said.

FIRST caters to students from kindergarten to 12th grade, providing different STEM-based programs for their age group. Morris is participating in FIRST Tech Challenge, where he and his team of fellow students create a robot from scratch.  They build the robot and create the coding that operates it.

“We learn so many new things about robotics,” Morris said. “This year, the program we’re using is Java.”

The students are paired up with mentors during the building process. Those can be sponsor companies, or even college engineering students. 

“They’re so smart,” said MSOE engineering student and mentor, Christian Doughty. “When I was in middle school and early high school, I didn’t know any programming languages.”

Morris and his team will compete with their robot in a statewide competition against other FIRST teams Sunday, Dec. 19 in Manitowoc.

The two other programs FIRST offers are a lego league for students ages four to sixteen. It has students build a robot out of legos. As they age, it offers them the opportunity to compete with it and learn more complex skills, such as coding.

To learn more about FIRST and its offerings in Wisconsin, click here.