by Kim Wierman, Program Director

It would be a real understatement to say this was a year like no other! In the 10+ years I’ve been with FIRST, I have never seen a hands-on, in-person, sport-like event need to move to a remote environment. But I have also never seen perseverance and dedication from both teams and our global partners like we saw this season. The entire community rallied and innovated and supported, and even thrived, despite not being able to do things the way we would have liked. Isn’t that what we are all about anyway? 

How will we remember the 2020-2021 RePLAY(SM) season? Will it be remembered as the year the world shut down in an effort to stop a global pandemic? Of course. But we did so much more than survive a pandemic.  

It was the year team SESI Big Bang invented FI GLOVE and earned its place as winner of the Global Innovation Awards. It is the year our partners in Egypt prepared nine graduates of FIRST LEGO League to present the program to its school administrators so they could see with their own eyes the impact the program has had on students.  If is the year that teams and partners from around Latin America worked together to make sure students in some of the hardest hit countries had an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way.  It is the year that our partner in Greece tried new models for delivering the program that will make future years even more accessible to more students throughout even the most remote areas of country. 

Above all, it was a year like any other year when it comes to what is important. We saw countless examples of teams living the Core Values of: Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork and Fun, all while learning valuable STEM skills. 

I want each of you to pause and reflect on your own journey this season and fill in the blank in this sentence: RePLAY was the season my team ________________.  What were your own personal accomplishments that will help you remember the 2020/2021 season as more than the year of the global pandemic? You all have incredible stories and victories. You all were adaptable and creative and innovative. And you all should be very proud of these accomplishments. 

I want to give a big shout out and high-fives to the FIRST LEGO League coaches who overcame all of the obstacles and still guided their teams through remote meetings and competitions. 

We look forward to the new season, CARGO CONNECT, no matter how slow our return to normal may be. I have full confidence in you to continue to persevere and continue to pursue your dreams to become STEM leaders and good global citizens.