FAQ
FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE

Team QUESTIONS

What kind of computer is needed for a FIRST® Robotics Competition team?

Teams must have access to either a Mac or a PC with an internet connection. Computers will be used for the design process, and for programming the team’s robot. Students will need to use computers for research, the Engineering Notebook, and other awards.

Computers are often used during competition as part of the team’s drive stations for matches. Students will also use the computers during competition, to update or fix potential electrical or programming issues.

What kind of practice space does a FIRST® Robotics Competition team need?

Your team should meet in a suitable space to design and build an industrial-sized robot (about 120 lbs.), that has access to a variety of machine shop power tools. Your team will also need a space that provides access to the internet, to work on your team’s awards, marketing, and outreach.

Are there any special skills required to participate?

The really cool thing about FIRST® Robotics Competition is that all skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical or non-technical. Teams need all kinds of skills to succeed, so what are you good at? We have a job for you. And we’ll probably teach you a few new ones while you’re with us.

Student team members are encouraged to bring any skills they already have, like programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography, and many more. FIRST® Robotics Competition welcomes every student, with or without special skills. Like our Mentors say, “This is the only sport where if you show up, you can play.”

When does FIRST® Robotics Competition happen?

Each January FIRST®, our parent organization headquartered in New Hampshire, provides teams across the globe with a new challenge that focuses on real-world issues that scientist and engineers are facing today. They have six weeks to plan, design, build, and program a robot to compete with and against other teams and their robots. Competition season lasts from late February through April.

How are teams judged at competitions and what awards are there for FIRST® Robotics Competition teams participating?

Judges for FIRST® Robotics Competition select team award recipients through interaction with teams, review documentation regarding team background information to familiarize judges with teams, and serve as role models for the students. Judges have the ability to positively impact quality of event and have an opportunity to coach students on career paths.

Here are descriptions of the awards that are based upon team attributes.

Here are descriptions of the awards that are based upon machine, creativity, and innovation.

Where can I find more resources for this years challenge?

The FIRST Robotics Competition 2019 game has not been released to the public yet but will be in January. When released, you can find resources in the national FIRST resource library.

How can I find a team to join?

Washington State has around 100 FIRST® Robotics Competition 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.

Within Washington, many FIRST® Robotics Competitions 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.

Other 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.

Who can coach a FIRST® Robotics Competition 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 must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of the program.

Who can mentor a FIRST® Tech Challenge team?

Mentors are individuals from all backgrounds and disciplines who work with students to share their knowledge and guide them through the season. Many Mentors contribute on a weekly basis during the program season, or support the team with subject matter expertise on an as needed basis. Teams may have additional or more specialized roles or combine roles as needed.

Who can start a FIRST® Tech Challenge 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.

What is this years challenge?

We’re pushing FIRST® City forward and up into the skies – and shifting the way we think about our place in the galaxy. Check out the official game animation for the FIRST® Tech Challenge SKYSTONE season Presented by Qualcomm.

How old does my child need to be to join a FIRST® Tech Challenge team?

The FIRST® Tech Challenge program is designed for young people ages 12-18 and grades 7-12.

What is the FIRST® Tech Challenge?

Each September FIRST® our parent organization headquartered in New Hampshire, provides teams across the globe with a new challenge that focuses on real-world issues that scientists and engineers are facing today.

Students work together to design, build, and program their robots, preparing for the competition season that begins around November. Competition season can last through May or April depending on how far the team advances.

In addition to designing, building, and programming a robot for competition, teams will have to raise funds, design and maintain the team brand, and work to compete for specific awards. The students will also have to create an engineering notebook that documents their journey through the season.

What is the size of a FIRST® Tech Challenge team?

FIRST Tech Challenge teams should have a maximum of 15 students, many schools have multiple FTC teams to make sure all interested students are included. Students do not need any technical skills to join, FIRST encourages youths with all interests to join!

What is the time commitment for coaches, volunteers, and team members?

Mentors or adult Volunteers meet with their team at least once per week during the build and competition season (September – April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you can devote to the program.

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