FAQ
FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE

Team QUESTIONS

What is the Youth Protection Program (YPP)

The purpose of the FIRST Youth Protection Program (FIRST YPP) is to provide Coaches, Mentors, Volunteers, employees, others working in FIRST programs, team members, parents, and guardians of team members with information, guidelines, and procedures to create safe environments for everyone participating in FIRST programs.

The FIRST YPP sets minimum standards recommended for all FIRST activities. Adults working in FIRST programs must be knowledgeable of the standards set by the FIRST YPP, as well as those set by the school or organization hosting their team.

FIRST expects all teams in the United States and Canada to adhere to all provisions of the FIRST YPP.

Program Guide  Program Resources

How do you join an existing team?

If your school or other organization has a FIRST® LEGO® League team already, approach the coach to see if there is room for another student, and if the deadline has passed.

If your child’s school does not currently have a team, you may want to work with a teacher or administrator there to help form a team within the school.

How can I find a team to join?

Washington State has between 550 and 600 FIRST® LEGO® League teams each year. Teams are formed in schools, community organizations, and neighborhoods. They can be formed by any interested adult willing to facilitate the team logistics for about four months.

Both nationwide and within Washington, about 77% (~460) of the FIRST® LEGO® League teams are formed through schools, so the first place to look for opportunities to join a team is with your child’s school. Generally, the school-based teams are open only to students attending that institution because interest often exceeds capacity. If your child’s school does not currently have a team, you may want to work with a teacher or administrator there to help form a team within the school.

About 10% of the Washington teams are formed through community organizations such as 4-H, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or Boys & Girls Clubs. Generally, this is only one of many activities that the organization facilitates for its members, but if your child is interested in one of these organizations overall, this might be an avenue to pursue in your local area.

The remaining teams in Washington are formed through homeschool groups, religious organizations or neighborhood groups of friends. While these groups are not specifically closed to other students, they do not usually engage in recruiting members.

Since finding an opportunity with an existing team may be difficult, many experienced coaches and parents advise families new to the program to start their own team. The benefits to your child and for those who have an opportunity to participate are well worth the effort. If you need additional resources or encouragement, contact us at FIRST® Washington.

Search for Teams Near You

 

What is the cost of a FIRST® LEGO® League team?

The cost to participate ranges from $1,400 for new teams to $850 for returning teams. Your costs may be lower if you are able to get some items donated.

One of the major purchases is a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Robotics Kit. This kit provides a small programmable LEGO EV3 computer, and enough motors and parts to make a machine. If your team already has access to a kit, you can use that kit and not purchase a new one. Returning teams are able to reuse the kit each year.

Sample Budgets

http://firstlegoleague.org/

Who can coach a FIRST® LEGO® League team?

Teachers, parents, and technology professionals all make excellent coaches. The coach must be 18 years or older and should have the desire to explore side-by-side with students and have good communication, prioritizing, and multitasking skills. The coach’s role is to facilitate instruction and optimize the learning experience of the team members by allowing independent thought. Direct adult involvement or intervention during the problem-solving process is strongly discouraged.

Coaches handle all the operational details: where and when to meet, organizing help for snacks, team costumes, etc. Coaches do not need technical expertise, but expertise but must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of the programming environment and LEGO® robot building. As leader of a FIRST® LEGO® League registered team, the coach will have access to robot kits, team Challenge kits, software and building instructional manuals from FIRST® LEGO® League.

Who can mentor a FIRST® LEGO® League team?

Mentors are high school students or adults who provide technical assistance and guidance to a team. Often a single person fills both the coach and mentor roles. Sometimes a single person coaches several teams while each team has their own mentor. Sometimes it is reversed. Mentors give FIRST® LEGO® League participants the opportunity to explore scientific principles and practices while working with a positive role model.

What kind of practice space does a FIRST® LEGO® League team need?

Teams need enough space to build and test the robot on the FIRST® LEGO® League playing field (contained in the Challenge Kit). The playing field is a 8′ x 4′ mat upon which LEGO® pieces and various elements are arranged to create the Challenge missions.

Additional materials (such as two-by-fours) must be purchased separately to build a border around the playing field. Setup can be as simple as clearing an area on the floor, or your team may opt to build an official FIRST® LEGO® League table (see the Challenge rules for details). Some teams have found it advantageous to share a playing field with other teams in their area.

What kind of computer is needed for a FIRST® LEGO® League team?

Teams must have access to either a Mac or a PC with an internet connection. Internet access and a valid email address are mandatory to maintain contact with FIRST® LEGO® League throughout the Challenge season. The computer is used to develop programs for the team’s robot. Programs are easily downloaded to the programmable LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robot controller via a USB cable.

If your team attends a local event or state tournament, you will need an on-site computer for the day of the competition. A laptop is best. Robot programs are often modified to accommodate the specific conditions of the tournament setting and to improve robot performance.

What kind of training resources are available for FIRST® LEGO® League coaches and mentors?

New Coach Information – This document gives an overview of what new coaches need to know.

FIRST® LEGO® League Kickoff Materials from the Microsoft Kickoff Event:

Are there any special skills required to participate?

The best thing about FIRST® LEGO® League is that all skill levels are welcome – technical and nontechnical. Teams need all kinds of skills and creativity to succeed. What are you good at? Chances are we have a job for you. And we’ll probably teach you a few new ones while you’re with us.

The most successful coaches are people with at least an interest in science and technology, and in helping kids discover and learn. But we can’t emphasize enough that no special technical skills are required. Anyone who wants to be a coach will receive all the training and help they need.

FIRST® LEGO® League welcomes every student, with or without special skills. Youth team members are encouraged to bring any skills or interests they already have, but most importantly a desire to learn and solve problems as a team.

As our coaches say, “This is the only sport where if you show up, you can play.”

Coach Quick Tips

How do I register my team for FIRST® LEGO® League?

You begin the two-level registration process with national FIRST® registration.. When you complete the short process (around 20 minutes) and pay your registration fee, you will receive:

  • An official team number
  • Coaches’ Handbook

Once your team is registered with FIRST® nationally, the coach or team representative must register with FIRST® Washington. Registering with FIRST® Washington will allow you to participate in the event registration process in October and the opportunity to compete in local competitions, qualifiers and regional championships.

Please go to the Get Started page on this site to begin the registration process.

What are the FIRST® LEGO® League Core Values?

We express the FIRST® philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition through our Core Values:
FLL, Core Values We express the FIRST® philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

How is the Champion’s Award determined? Are certain weights used?

The Champion’s Award recognizes a team that “embodies the FIRST® LEGO® League experience, by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project.”

At an official event Judges will look for balanced, strong performance across all three areas; this means that all three judged sessions (Core Values, Robot Design, and Project) are weighted equally to determine the initial group of Champion’s candidates. All candidates must also meet the following requirements:

  • Robot: The team must score in the top 40% of all teams participating in the Robot Game at the event.
  • Project: The team must complete all parts of the Project, including the identification of a real world problem related to the Challenge theme, creation of an innovative solution and sharing their research and solution with others, as well as any other season-specific requirements that may exist.
  • Core Values: The team must adhere to all Core Values throughout the event and the season.

All candidate teams are then reviewed during a deliberative process that considers Robot Performance placement and other qualitative factors. Final determination of the award winner(s) is based on a vote of the full judging panel.

What is the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge?

Each year, FIRST® LEGO® League releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic.

Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. Teams of up to ten youth, with at least two adult coaches, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST® Core Values. Teams may then attend an official tournament, hosted by our FIRST® LEGO® League Partners.

Past Challenges have been based on topics such as nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped population, and transportation. By designing our Challenges around such topics, participants are exposed to potential career paths within a chosen Challenge topic, in addition to solidifying the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles that naturally come from participating in the program. Team members also learn valuable life and employment skills, which will benefit them no matter the career path they choose.

Learn more >>

Does FIRSTLEGO League have an official policy on how teams advance to Championships from Qualifiers?

In accordance with the Participation Rules, teams are eligible for awards and advancement only at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during season. In most cases, event capacity within a region limits team participation to only one qualifying event each season.

The qualifier advancement policy is based on Champion’s Award criteria. As described above, Champion’s Award criteria require that the team, performs well in all three judged areas (Core Values, Project, and Robot Design). Teams are required to be ranked in the in the top 40% of official Robot Game scores to be considered for Champion’s Award and they must be ranked in the top 75% of official Robot Game scores to be eligible to advance.

Contact your local Partner or Tournament Director to find out how many teams will be advancing from the event you are attending. (See the official Advancement Policy).

It is possible for a team to receive a 1st Place Core Values, Project, or Robot Design Award but not advance to Championship if their Robot Performance score is ranked below the top 75% of teams at the event. A team may win 1st Place in Robot Performance but not advance to Championship due to not having performed well in one or more of the three judged areas.

Educator Questions

What is the Youth Protection Program (YPP)

The purpose of the FIRST Youth Protection Program (FIRST YPP) is to provide Coaches, Mentors, Volunteers, employees, others working in FIRST programs, team members, parents, and guardians of team members with information, guidelines, and procedures to create safe environments for everyone participating in FIRST programs.

The FIRST YPP sets minimum standards recommended for all FIRST activities. Adults working in FIRST programs must be knowledgeable of the standards set by the FIRST YPP, as well as those set by the school or organization hosting their team.

FIRST expects all teams in the United States and Canada to adhere to all provisions of the FIRST YPP.

Program Guide  Program Resources

What is the STEM Robotics 101 professional development program and the Computer Science Education Grant?

The STEM Robotics 101 professional development program is a two-day introductory workshop in which teachers learn how to build and program the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 robot and utilize/customize the rich set of Robotics 101 resources. Teachers work in pairs (just like their students) with the provided kits, robots and computers. Each teacher leaves equipped with software and the curriculum resources they need to customize a STEM robotics course to meet the needs of their students and goals of their administrators.

The Computer Science Education iGrant provided funding to launch the STEM Robotics 101 professional development program in the spring of 2016. Since then, over 35 two-day Robotics 101 Introductory workshops have been held at 15 sites statewide.

There are also several one-day advanced topics/coaching sessions for introductory professional development graduates, offered in partnership with educational service districts around the state.

The one-day advanced topics professional development includes Advanced LEGO® Programming, Robo-Math, Robo-Science, Data Logging, Technology-demystification lessons, Java Programming on LEGO® MINDSTORMS®, and FIRST® LEGO® Primers.

Professional development participants learn about the STEM Robotics 101 Lesson Bounty Program, which seeks to harvest the innovations of Washington teachers who too often are isolated in their own classroom. The Robotics 101 Lesson Bounty program seeks to harvest this creative work by providing a stipend for Washington CS/STEM teachers to take the time to document and share complete new lessons for STEM Robotics 101 which they have created for their own class.

What is STEM Robotics 101?

STEM Robotics 101 is a free CS/STEM curriculum for new Robotics teachers developed by the Olympia School District (OSD) and deployed worldwide with the help of two National Science Foundation Projects to more than 3,700 registered teacher-users. Robo101 enables teachers to customize an approachable CS/STEM curriculum that plays to their unique strengths, while also meeting the individual needs of their students and goals of their school administrators.

Based on the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics kits, STEM Robotics 101 was featured at the NCCE conference in Seattle, and this Interview with the NCCE Blog team provides insight into the history and goals of Robo101.

Where and When will the STEM Robotics 101 PD be held?

We will be hosting STEM Robotics 101 Intro PD workshops at all 9 ESDs and FIRST WA Fieldhouse in Kent. The current schedule of the 2-day Robo101 Introductory Workshops is available here. https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=F19D522414184E!18268&ithint=file%2cdocx&app=Word&authkey=!AOWDE5edXscB7x4link

https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=F19D522414184E!18268&ithint=file%2cdocx&app=Word&authkey=!AOWDE5edXscB7x4link

What is the cost to participate in the Introductory STEM Robotics 101 PD program?

The registration fee for the two-day STEM Robotics 101 Introductory Workshop is $395. You may be eligible for grant or scholarship funding.

If your robotics team received a FIRST® Washington iGrant from OPSI this year, these funds may be used to pay for the STEM Robotics 101 Introductory Workshop. (Professional development is an allowable expense for these grants.)

Partial scholarships are available for teachers impacting high under-represented student populations. Demographic information is requested during registration to determine a school’s tier for Robotic 101. Tier 1 teachers pay a net $195 registration and Tier 2 teachers $295 (See Financial Support FAQ).

The registration fee includes:

  • The two-day hands-on professional development with an experienced instructor (computers, software, and robots supplied)
  • OSPI-certified STEM clock hours for certification purposes
  • Free OSPI-approved model framework/leadership equivalency and standards alignment
  • A free turn-key, customizable curriculum repository
  • A one-time 5% discount off the best internet volume pricing on a classroom set of LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 kits and accessorie
  • Eligibility for STEM Robotics 101 Lesson Bounty Program, with a teacher-stipend for adding new lessons to STEM Robotics 101
  • Eligibility for advanced topics professional development, including Advanced LEGO Programming, Robo-Math, Robo-Science, Data Logging, Technology-demystification lessons, Java Programming on LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 and FIRST® LEGO® League Primers

What financial support for STEM Robotics PD will be provided to teachers from schools with high under-represented student populations and how are these tiers determined?

The Computer Science Education Grant program was designed to “introduce and engage students from historically underrepresented groups, including girls, low-income students, and minority students, to computer science and to inspire them to enter computer science careers”.

To this end, the STEM Robotics 101 PD program will prioritize participation and financial assistance into three tiers to serve this objective:

The Computer Science Education Grant program was designed to “introduce and engage students from historically underrepresented groups, including girls, low-income students, and minority students, to computer science and to inspire them to enter computer science careers.”

The STEM Robotics 101 professional development program prioritizes participation and financial assistance into three tiers to serve this objective:

Tier 1: Available to teachers who teach students from the most under-represented CS/STEM populations:

  1. Teachers of Mandatory STEM Robotics 101 Enrichment Classes (100% participation of girls)
  2. Teachers from Alternative Learning Experience Classes
  3. Teachers from Special Education Classes
  4. Teachers from schools in the highest quartile statewide (as determined by OSPI’s 2016/17 Washington State Report Card) for:
    a) Free or reduced-price meals population rate >60%
    b) Transitional/Bilingual population rate >15%
    c) Non-White/non-Asian population rate >50%

    Teachers from Tier 1 will be given the highest priority for professional development training slots and a $200 registration scholarship, reducing the 2-day STEM Robotics 101 Introductory Workshop fee to $195.

Tier 2: Available to teachers who teach students from high under-represented CS/STEM populations. Teachers from schools in the second-highest quartile statewide (as determined by OSPI’s 2016/17Washington State Report Card) for:

  1. Free or reduced-price meals population rate >45%
  2. Transitional/Bilingual population rate >10%
  3. Non-White/non-Asian population rate >33%

Teachers from Tier 2 will be given second-highest priority for professional development training slots and a $100 registration scholarship, reducing the 2-day STEM Robotics 101 Introductory Workshop fee to $295.

Tier 3: All other public/private school teachers.

Teachers from Tier 3 will be given priority for professional development training slots on a first-come-first-served basis after Tier 1 and Tier 2 teachers are allocated slots. Tier 3 teachers will be given no additional financial assistance, but they will receive all the benefits listed in the previous FAQ.

How do I sign up for the STEM Robotics 101 professional development program?

Interested applicants should register as soon as possible. Please be sure to complete the optional section at the end of the form if you are interested in qualifying for Tier 1 or Tier 2 scholarships.

Applications will be prioritized as described in the previous FAQ and applicants/principals will be notified of their status, any available tiered scholarships, and how to complete the final registrations (including payment of fee). A letter of support from the principal will be required as part of this final registration process

Is the STEM Robotics 101 Professional Development eligible for STEM Clock Hours?

Yes. The STEM Robotics 101 professional development program was the first professional development program in Washington certified as “STEM clock hours” for teacher certification purposes. Participants attending the STEM Robotics 101 Introductory two-day workshop will earn 12 STEM clock hours, administrated through ESD 112.

Are there OSPI-approved CTE Middle/High School Model Frameworks and Leadership Equivalencies for STEM Robotics 101? How about standards alignments for non-CTE classes?

Yes, the OSPI-approved model frameworks and CTE Leadership Equivalencies are available here.

For non-CTE classes, the middle/high school standards (including Common Core Math/ELA, NGSS and the new WA CS standards) are provided on a unit-by-unit basis in the above model frameworks.

Also, the FIRST® LEGO® League organizers have published these standards alignments for FLL for 4th, 5th and 6-8th grades:

Note: these alignments are for the FLL competition only, STEM Robotics 101 may be used to cover many additional standards in the classroom.

What are the start-up costs of a STEM Robotics 101 classroom? Is help with start-up costs available?

The start-up costs for a STEM Robotics 101 classroom is about $225 per seat.

This cost estimate assumes:
1. Two students per robotics kit (ideal ratio)
2. Classroom has access to computers – Mac, PC or iPads/Chromebooks – that are less than 6 years old
3. Classroom licenses for programming and tutorial software
4. Classroom Challenge supplies
5. Teacher has completed the STEM Robotics 101 Introductory Workshop and is eligible for one-time start-up discounts (5% on kits/software from LEGO® Education.

FIRST® Washington is beginning to work on a program to help support Tier 1 and Tier 2 free or reduced-price meals schools with their classroom start-up costs. If start-up costs are a barrier for your participation as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 school, please contact Erin McCallum at FIRST® Washington, erin@firstwa.org.

What feedback have participants in the STEM Robotics 101 PD Program Provided?

Over two-thirds of the STEM Robotics 101 Introductory Workshop participants have taken the time to provide written feedback. Their complete, unedited and unfiltered feedback is available here: STEM Robotics 101 professional development participant feedback.

Who do I contact if I have more questions about the STEM Robotics 101 PD program?

Please contact Terri Campbell at  FIRST® Washington at terric@firstwa.org

Who will be the instructor for the STEM Robotics 101 PD?

Randy Steele of R&D Consulting (R_Dconsulting@comcast.net) will be the instructor for the STEM Robotics 101 Introductory PD.  Randy has been a STEM Education Consultant and the CTE STEM Coach for the Olympia School District since 2010. He is the primary author and curator of the STEM Robotics 101 curriculum site.

Randy entered STEM education as an “empty-nest” career following two decades as a computer chip designer and engineering manager at Intel and ST Microelectronics.  He has coached/mentored several teams for FLL, FTC and FRC competitions and has trained hundreds of Washington teachers on STEM Robotics 101.

Randy has a B.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Management Sciences, a Washington State Residency Certificate in middle and high school math, and a Washington State CTE Certificate in STEM Technology, Computer Technology, Electronics and Engineering. Randy is also the inventor on 30 U.S. patents in the field of computer chip design.

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