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.
How do you join an existing team?
If your school or organization has a FIRST® Tech Challenge team, approach the coach and see if there is room for another student and if the deadline has passed.
If your child’s school or organization does not have FIRST® Tech Challenge team, you may want to work with a teacher or administer to help form a team within the school.
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.”
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. The final determination of the award winner(s) is based on a vote of the full judging panel.
What is this year’s challenge?
CITY SHAPER Challenge
More than ever, we must come together to innovate and solve problems. In FIRST®, you are part of a thriving community brimming with inspiration, creativity, and hope for a stronger, more sustainable future—one that’s built better together. You have the power to help the cities, towns, and places you call home reach new heights. With the support of the FIRST® community, this is your opportunity to lead our future forward—and up.
FIRST® LEGO® League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the CITY SHAPER season, teams will choose and solve a real-world problem in the Innovation Project. They will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the FIRST signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®.
Where can I find more information and resources for this year’s challenge?
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 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.
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.
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.
What are the payment options?
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.
What is the size of a FIRST® LEGO® League team?
FLL Teams have 2-10 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, programming, research, and project management.
How long is the season?
The FIRST® LEGO® League season runs from September to January, followed by the state championships.
What feedback have participants in the STEM Robotics 101 PD Program Provided?
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.