How are teams judged at competitions and what awards are there for FIRST® LEGO® League teams participating?
FIRST® LEGO® League is known around the globe not only for what we do (the Robot Game and Project), but also how we do it, with Core Values at the heart. The rubrics used for judging reflect these three equally important aspects of FIRST® LEGO® League.
Official tournaments must follow the judging and awards structure determined by FIRST® LEGO® League. Although the audience mostly sees teams playing the Robot Game at tournaments, teams are also being judged on:
The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary are additional tools that may be used to help facilitate discussion in the Core Values and Robot Design judging sessions at official events. FIRST® Washington will distribute instructions to teams outlining the information to be included if we require the Core Values Poster and/or the Robot Design Executive Summary at our events.
The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary will be used as part of the judging at World Festival.
Teams must participate in all elements of a FIRST® LEGO® League competition including the Robot Game and all three judged areas in order to be eligible for any Core Award.
Judges use the rubrics to help them determine which teams will receive awards.
With the exception of the Robot Performance Award, awards are determined by a deliberation process, which is formulated around discussions of team performance in each category.
If a team does not exhibit Core Values at a tournament, they may be disqualified from winning any awards – including Robot Performance – no matter how well they scored.
Adults are strictly prohibited from directing team members or interfering with the judging process or robot rounds in any way.
No team is allowed to win two awards, unless one of the awards is for Robot Performance. Robot Performance is the only category based solely on score.
While they may attend other events for fun, teams are only eligible to win awards at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during the season.
Who can start a FIRST® LEGO® League team?
Anyone with an interest in changing lives through STEM can start a team – educators, parents, anyone with the time and motivation. Most teams in Washington are school-based. Others are formed through community organizations such as 4-H, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, homeschool groups, religious organizations, and even neighborhood groups of friends. If you want to start a school-based team, contact a teacher or administrator to get started. Also, see the minimum requirements.
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.
Invoices for the FIRST® LEGO® season are emailed to the team lead coach or team administrator in October. You may pay by check, purchase order, or credit card. If you pay by credit card, please use the payment link on your emailed invoice.
How old does my child need to be to join a FIRST® LEGO® League team?
The FIRST® LEGO® League program is designed for young people ages 9-14 years old in grades 4-8.
How long is the season?
The FIRST® LEGO® League season opens in October and runs through January, followed by the state championships.
What are the minimum requirements for every FIRST® LEGO® League team?
Each FIRST® LEGO® League team needs:
Two or more adult coaches willing and motivated to guide the team through the discovery and competition season (and beyond) – no special technical experience is required
Up to 10 students ages 9 to 14 willing to put in time and do any job the team needs to succeed (There are lots of important jobs available for all skill levels and interests.)
A suitable meeting place, either public or private, that can accommodate a 4 x 8-foot playing field table, and has internet access
A standard Challenge Set and a common set of rules issued by FIRST® and LEGO®
A paid team registration, official team number, and a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot set
The desire to learn, explore, strategize, build comradery, share ideas and talents, make new friends, be accepted, and HAVE FUN!
When does FIRST® LEGO® League happen?
Teams generally form and register from May through October.
The FIRST® LEGO® League season Challenge information is released in late August. The project and build season begins after the Challenge is released.
Tournaments begin at the end of November. Tournaments – Qualifier Competitions – determine which teams earn spots at the FIRST® Championship at the end of April
There are also many off-season events in which teams can participate, strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun.
What is the time commitment for coaches, volunteers, and team members?
In general, as a coach or volunteer, you should meet with your team two to three times per week during the build and competition season from September through January; April if you make the World Championship. Two hours per meeting is an adequate time commitment. An occasional Saturday or Sunday is often added before the tournament to finish projects and practice.
Many mature teams meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can determine how much time you devote to the program.
As a youth team member, the same applies. Be prepared to meet once per week from mid-September through January; April if you make the World Championship. Like any sport or club, time you invest in helping your team will add to your team’s success.
What is the size of a FIRST® LEGO® League team?
FLL Teams have two to 10 youth members and two adult coaches. If you have more people wanting to join, the best thing to do is start another team.
Team members are responsible for creating and managing the team. Roles include building, documentation, marketing, programming, quality control, research, strategic analysis, and project management.
I can’t find a team near me. Can I start one?
Absolutely. The easiest way to join a FIRST® LEGO® League program is to start your own team. Ask your principal if your school has a team; if not, encourage your principal to identify a teacher who would be willing to start a team with your help as a team volunteer. Please let your principal know that FIRST® is a collaborative partnership with private industry professionals and educators to inspire young people towards STEM.
If a school-based team is not a possibility, you may find another youth-focused organization that can help. Scouts, 4-H and other clubs may also support FIRST® teams.