North Branch participates in two programs sponsored by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). The FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) program is for high school students and FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) for students in grades 7-9.
FRC Team 3038 was formed when NBAPS was approached by FIRST and offered the opportunity to form a team with grant funding from St. Jude Medical Foundation. All mentors are volunteers, and the team is a cooperative between NBAPS and Chisago Lakes High School. Recently, SJM was purchased by Abbott and NBAPS is looking forward to having a relationship with them moving forward.
Founded in 2009, Team 3038 qualified for the world championships in Atlanta in 2010, was a U.S. safety award winner, and has consistently been a semi-finalist in the ensuing years while qualifying twice for the Minnesota State High School League Championships in 2014 and 2015.
Three FTC teams were started during the 2013-14 school year to give younger students experience in robotics to better prepare them for participation in the high school program. The interest was such that two additional teams were created on 2014-15. All mentors are volunteers. North Branch was a successful bidder to host a state qualifying tournament and hosted 24 FTC teams in January 2015 in an all-day tournament held at the high school. North Branch successfully hosted two FIRST Lego League Qualifiers and one FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifier in December 2015, which involved 86 teams in one weekend. In January 2017, North Branch again hosted two 24 team FTC qualifiers at the middle school.
The North Branch FTC program qualified teams for the FTC State Tournament the first three years of the program. While none of the teams qualified for the 2017 State Tournament, North Branch did have one team finish second in the 24-team qualifier and another team tied for third.
In 2018, the program qualified for worlds and state competition. Also in 2018, two FTC teams qualified for the state competition. In the current school year, NBAPS started a FLL (First Lego League) team for younger students, creating three FIRST programs in district.
NBAPS is hosting the FTC tournament again on Dec. 1st and 2nd.