Get Started
FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE

GATHER YOUR FORCES

Volunteers and teachers make it happen. And we make it easy for you with step-by-step instructions and all the resources and support you need to succeed.

Here’s how you get started:

  1. Learn about FIRST® LEGO® League, our Core Values, the Challenge, and the Youth Protection Program (YPP).
  2. Assign two coaches/mentors to lead your team. [Learn More]
  3. Gather two to 10 team members ages 9 to 14.
  4. Find a place to meet. [Learn More]
Continue to Step 2

NATIONAL REGISTRATION

Start the two-level registration process with national FIRST® registration on the national FIRSTInspires.org site. Once you complete the short process (around 20 minutes) and pay your registration fee, you will receive:

  • An Official Team Number
  • Coaches’ Handbook

All Washington teams must register both with the national FIRST® organization and with FIRST® Washington.

Continue to Step 3

WASHINGTON REGISTRATION

Once your team is registered with FIRST® nationally, the coach or team representative must register with FIRST® Washington, your local organization.

  • This is provided following FIRST National registration.
Continue to Step 4

NEXT STEPS

Congratulations! Now it’s time for the fun part, you’ll need to get your materials, team, and volunteers in order. You will need to raise the funds necessary to compete and finally, you can begin work on the challenge!

Order Materials

  • With your paid registration, you will receive this year’s Challenge Set, which includes an exclusive selection of LEGO® bricks, dual lock fasteners, and a roll-out field mat. The Challenge Set changes with the new Challenge every season.
  • If you are a new team, registering for the first time, you will also need to purchase a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Set to build your robot. You can purchase the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Set by logging on to your FIRST Team Dashboard and selecting Order Products from the Payment and Products Team Option
  • If your team already has a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Set, you are not required to buy a new one.

FIRST Team Dashboard

Invite Students and Volunteers

  • The lead coach/mentors may invite young people to join your team through your FIRST Team Dashboard. You may send parents an email inviting their children to apply by creating an account in the registration system.
  • To ensure our youth are safe, all program volunteers, coaches, and mentors must be screened as part of the FIRST Youth Protection Program (YPP). This includes a legally required background check. Once screened, the lead coach and mentors may email other adults inviting them to volunteer. Each volunteer must create an account and complete the youth protection screening.

Raise Funds

  • Students do not pay to participate individually. You fund your team as a whole by raising funds for team registration, robot parts, travel, and other expenses. FIRST® Washington offers plenty of support and resources.

Funding Opportunities    Fundraising Toolkit

Begin Work on the Challenge

  • Design, build and program your team’s robot. Have fun brainstorming ideas, exploring innovative solutions, and working as a team.

Learn more

Apply for or Attend the Tournament

  • The season culminates with FIRST®LEGO® League regional tournaments and championships. Teams show off their accomplishments and compete with their robots. Season-ending events offer thrills, memories, and inspiration for a lifetime.
  • Perhaps you’ll earn an invitation to compete in the championships against competitors from all over the world.
  • Once you have completed your registration with FIRST® Washington (step 3) you will be notified when event registration opens at the end of September.

Get Started
FAQ

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 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:

  • Core Values
  • Project
  • Robot Design

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.

About Judging

  • 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.

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

 

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.

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 long is the season?

The FIRST® LEGO® League season opens in October and runs through January, followed by the state championships.

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 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!

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!

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 are the rules for participating in a FIRST® LEGO® League tournament?

Like other team activities, FIRST® LEGO® League has basic ground rules. Failure to abide by these rules could result in ineligibility for awards at a tournament or other consequences deemed necessary by judges, referees, tournament organizers, FIRST® LEGO® League partners, Headquarters, or their designated representatives.

General Rules
Teams, coaches and other supporters must demonstrate the Core Values in their actions and
activities.

Throughout the season, teams need access to the following materials:

  • LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Set
  • Computer or tablet with software to program the robot. (Laptop is recommended.)

Throughout the season, teams need access to the following season-specific materials:

  • Challenge Set
  • Documents from www.firstLEGOleague.org/challenge all released at 1 pm EST August 1st of the Challenge season year:
    • Mission Model Build Instructions
    • Field Setup Guide
    • Challenge and Challenge Guide

Competition Rules
A competitive team is one playing in a FIRST® LEGO® League official event. These additional rules apply:

  • A competitive team consists of a minimum of two and a maximum of 10 youth. Proper adult supervision is required as described in the FIRST® Youth Protection Policy.
  • A team must be registered and fully paid in the national registration system to sign up for official events. Additional event fees may apply.
  • Team members are between the minimum and maximum age allowed in their region.
  • All work presented at an official event is the work of the youth on the team.
  • All team members attending an event are required to participate in all three judging sessions and be present as a team at the Robot Game matches.

Awards/Advancement
A competitive team must meet these additional criteria to be eligible for awards and/or advancement at an official event.

  • Teams are at their first official event of each tournament level for the season. For example, teams are only eligible for awards at the first qualifier they compete in each season. [See INTO ORBIT Challenge Guide]
  • Team members’ work must conform to the parameters and rules outlined in the Challenge and Challenge Guide. [See INTO ORBIT Challenge, Updates, & Resources]

Consequences
FIRST® Washington gives authority to volunteers staffing FIRST® LEGO® League official events to interpret and implement the participation rules, guided by global FIRST® LEGO® League training materials.

  • Teams, coaches, and supporters at official events are expected to demonstrate FIRST® Core Values.
  • Individuals interfering with, excessively instructing, prompting, or heckling a team or volunteer may be asked to leave.
  • Severe infractions of these rules may result in a team’s dismissal from the event. FIRST® LEGO® League official event volunteers are provided training to identify and respond to these situations [See FIRST Youth Protection Policy (YPP)].
  • Individuals and/or teams who fail to abide by the participation rules may be ineligible for awards at a tournament.

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/

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 >>

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.

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 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 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 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:

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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