Posted on the 20th July 2021
Written by Patrice

Concluding a phenomenal season – national awards and beyond!

What a year it has been! Teams, we’re immensely proud of every single one of you for your commitment and dedication during the most tumultuous season ever experienced. Teachers and mentors, we cannot thank you enough for your adaptability and relentless support, making sure teams explore every learning opportunity. Partners, we’re humbled by your support and agility as we collectively ensured every young person has the tools and experience needed to take on FIRST Tech Challenge UK.

We have come to the end of season 2020-21, which saw teams persevere throughout the season and compete in the Ultimate Goal game. Event 1 set the competitive tone and Event 2 laid on the pressure. Now our panel of expert judges have painstakingly reviewed the National Award Winners for 2020-21 and the results are as follows.

. . .


National award winners

Connect Award
UK063, 18889, Team Snapwire, Perton Middle School

Recognising that engaging with their local STEM community was an essential part of their success, this winning team reached out to local STEM businesses through fundraising and engaging local STEM professionals as mentors, in addition to interacting with their fellow teams through social media.

“Our team was ecstatic with excitement as we heard the news. Our enthusiasm was only boosted when we learnt that we had been awarded the “Connect” award for our media team’s strong performance. We have enjoyed our time during the FTC challenge and have learnt a lot from it. Next year, we plan to further refine our skills as a group and potentially look at setting up a team at our new school.”

Team Snapwire read the team’s full bio

Design Award
UK133, 18717, The Fast and the Flurries, Lakenheath HS

This winning team understood that good design not only involves coming up with unique solutions, but iterating and testing each element of their design. Every part of their robot was well considered, from their arm to the overall sleek assembly, which protected the various components.

Collins Aerospace Innovate Award
UK068, 19270, CalderDrones, Calderstones School

The FIRST community exists all over the globe, something that this winning team well understood. They conducted extensive research to find the most innovative and elegant solutions to this year’s challenge, resulting in a robot with unique solutions to multiple parts of the assembly, many of which were 3D printed by the team, using difficult materials.

“At the start of the season, we came up with ideas by gaining inspiration from some experienced American FIRST Tech Challenge teams. Every week, our social media coordinator went “scouting” and put together a presentation showcasing some of the robots he found that week, and we built on these ideas for our launcher, intake and drive mechanism. ”

Team CalderDrones read the team’s full bio

Motivate Award
UK003, 19278, Binary Bots, Binary Bots

Being an effective team in FIRST is about more than just excellent team management; this winning team demonstrated that supporting others in FIRST should happen both within your team and with others in your community. They demonstrated the ethos of FIRST by reaching out to other teams and proactively helping others to succeed.

“In past years, we have travelled to help other teams in person, however, due to quarantines and government restrictions, that was not possible. Despite this challenge, we were still able to set up online conferences with other teams, where we got the opportunity to learn more about them and their journeys as well as share ideas and strategies for the upcoming competition. Additionally, we were able to mentor several FIRST Lego League and FIRST Tech Challenge teams over Zoom in weekly meetings to stay connected with our community.”

Team Binary Bots read the team’s full bio

Control Award
UK235, 19279, Don’t Feed the Robot, American School in London

The winning team demonstrated a smart use of sensors and a Vuforia algorithm to determine the position of the robot within the arena. They used cropping of webcam input to optimise the search space and used heuristics to improve on the robot’s ring detection abilities.

Think Award
UK148, 19277, F.R.I.T.E.S, Lycee International de Valbonne

Team F.R.I.T.E.S. demonstrated a clear and concise design process. They ‘hacked’ the robot design together and implemented a better feed belt design. The teams also presented strong sustainability and strategy plans in their engineering portfolio, carefully considering how to optimise the game and pass on knowledge beyond the season.

2We have a very close-knit, motivated and involved team, with different but complementary profiles in programming, construction, design and communication. A good atmosphere and commitment resulted in a powerful synergy that pushed us to surpass ourselves, to dream big, and which finally led us to this success. In fact, it is by combining our strengths and differences, by promoting a plurality of ideas, concepts and designs that we succeeded in designing a robot that is as aesthetic as effective.”

Team F.R.I.T.E.Sread the team’s full bio

Inspire Award
UK090, 19273, GroundX, Outwood Academy Newbold

It was a super close race between the top two teams for this award, with both demonstrating so many aspects of a great FIRST team. The winning team effectively demonstrated that FIRST Tech Challenge is about more than just the robot, although they also showcased innovation in their technical design as well. This team impressed the judges with their passion in STEM through building a website, running an impressive Minecraft Server and conducting fundraising.

“Instead of focusing on the robot itself, we focussed on the things around it, such as match strategy and the designs. We also planned out fundraising ideas (some of which we are going to reuse next year!). This actually benefited us as we were able to get a good grasp of the rules, and from that could design and develop our robot to meet the challenges needed to gain the most amount of points.”

Team GroundXread the team’s full bio

Robot Performance Winner
UK148, 19277, F.R.I.T.E.S, Lycee International de Valbonne

RP – 1082, TBP1 – 312, TBP2 – 350, HS – 231

Robot Performance Finalist
UK170, 15469, Dragon Robotics, Alconbury HS

RP – 982, TBP1 – 421, TBP2 – 245, HS – 252

RP – Rank Points
TBP – Tie Breaker Points
HS – High Score

TBP1: For a single Team competing remotely, the Team’s Autonomous Period score for a Qualification Match is used as their TBP1. Total TBP1 is the sum of the TBP1s of all non-Surrogate Qualification Matches that a Team plays in a Tournament.

TBP2: For a single Team competing remotely, the Team’s End Game specific task score for a Qualification Match is used as their TBP2. Total TBP2 is the sum of the TBP2s of all non-Surrogate Qualification Matches that a Team plays in a Tournament.


Season highlights

Hover over the image to flick through the collection. If you would like your team photos to be included in the highlight album, please make sure you have permission to publish everyone who is visible and upload your files using this link.

FIRST Tech Challenge UK - 2020-21 season highlights

“The 2021 season has been a shining example of how enthusiasm and commitment prevail through turbulent times; ensuring that young people, from all backgrounds, are given the opportunity to explore their own potential and what they can achieve. FIRST invests in the young people who will invent the future and it’s these young people who have demonstrated their passion, motivation, imagination and team spirit through this year’s virtual events. I couldn’t be prouder to support such a vital programme; encouraging Arm’s people to give time to support it, helping the teams to showcase their hard work, celebrating their achievements and fuelling excitement about careers in STEM. #MoreThanAPartnership”

– Anna Malan, Manager, Community and Inclusion, Arm


How to request certificates

For any teams who would like to receive a certificate for taking part this season, please email with the amount you require. Certificates will be posted to your team’s registered address unless otherwise requested.

A heads up on next season

Next year offers us all a chance to adapt and mature how we approach FIRST Tech Challenge UK. Our focus is to engage and support more schools and young people with valuable STEM provision that thrives in a hybrid environment between digital and face-to-face interactions. In 2021-22, we’re streamlining our impact by supporting all existing schools as they reintroduce enrichment programmes and jump back into the programme.

Through consistent community dialogue, we promise to progress what really matters while advancing our mission by:


Launching the virtual simulator to broaden robotics learning
Between September and December, we will test the virtual simulator in the classroom with 8 curriculum-mapped computer science lessons and will further develop it ready for a nationwide launch in 2022. You don’t need to take part in the FIRST Tech Challenge programme to use the simulator, however, it is a beneficial gateway into the programme to develop confidence.

Supporting our existing community to maximise participation
Enabling schools and young people to return to the challenge with confidence and ease. Over 250 robotics kits are in schools across the UK and we’re working hard to enable an unrivalled learning experience including updated learning resources as we guide the community towards new heights.

Maintaining an adjusted timeline and events model to support recovery measures
We anticipate schools will need the flexibility to launch and deliver the programme in alignment with their individual school recovery measures, so will repeat our adjusted season timeline beginning in January to help teachers implement what they need to thrive next season.

Driving partner engagement to facilitate industry encounters
Creating empowering encounters with STEM professionals remains a large part of the FIRST Tech Challenge UK programme. Through virtual mentoring, remote events and judging, we’re continuing to drive industry encounters and develop STEM career knowledge in young people.


Ed Cervantes-Watson, our CEO, reflects on the past year:

“The resilience and determination young people, teachers, and mentors have displayed to prevail despite the challenges of this past year, reinforces exactly why FIRST builds more than robots. This season has been a tough one for everyone, we cannot thank everyone enough for their tenacity and congratulate all teams who progressed this season. We have a lot more to do to progress our mission; the pandemic has exposed real challenges that we’re determined to tackle with the tools we have, so that every young person can experience where they fit in the world of STEM without compromise. Looking forward to season 2021-22 where we make bold steps to help bridge the gap.”


A full season highlight report will be published in August sharing our progress, reflections and plans for the future.


Have an amazing summer!

From all of us at FIRST UK HQ


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