How To Start Your Own FIRST Lego League Team!
What each team needs to get started:
1. Kids! 4-10 kids, ages 9-14.
- 5-6 kids is the ideal size.
- Fewer than that gives minimal opportunities to practice the Core Values and learn to work through differing opinions among team members.
- More than 6 makes it challenging for all team members to get a turn handling the robot.
2. Coaches: 2 adults; 1 or more youth assistants. A good way to assign responsibilities is:
- One adult to coach on robot design, programming strategies, etc.
- Another adult to coach on project definition, research, and creating a solution
- A youth, a former member of an FLL team, to assist however needed
- The two adult coaches must apply through the national FLL website and complete an online background check. Do this ASAP so that coaches can download helpful resources.
3. A place to meet, and time for at least one 90-minute meeting or two 45-minute meetings per week.
- Start meetings as early in the year as you like, but definitely by early September.
- One meeting per week can suffice through mid-October.
- About a month prior to your competition, you’ll want to meet 2 or more times per week.
- Additionally, you will need one or more field trips.
- Research is a key component of the Project aspect of this competition
- On the year when Trash Trek was the theme, our team visited a landfill and a recycling plant. We invited other FLL teams to join us on these events.
- As you talk through ideas of the focus of your project, you’ll figure out places/people you’d like to visit to enrich your research.
4. A LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 programmable brick
- If you already own one, you don’t have to buy another one.
- If you need to buy one, you can order from online vendors such as Amazon.
- $350 is about the cost of the EV3.
- $115 is about the total cost of a rechargeable battery and cord.
- This enables the programs to function consistently.
- Without this rechargeable battery, your robot will slow down and lose accuracy as your batteries lose power.
- Be sure to buy both! The battery and charging cord are sold separately.
5. Laptop Computers: 1 or more
- This laptop can be owned by anyone on your team.
- You can download the software for free.
- You have to use laptops or desktops to create programs for your robot.
6. Access to a Robot Game Table to practice your programs.
- The table is 4’x8′ with a guardrail.
- You just need to build a tabletop; you can put it on sawhorses.
- You may not have to build one, you may be able to share one. Sometimes a library, church, school, etc will set up a table for multiple teams to share. Only one team can use the table at a time. So, if teams simply have different practice schedules, sharing a table works.
- Instructions for building the table are found here.
7. Register your Team Nationally and purchase a Challenge Kit
- $225 is the cost to register your team for the year. Payable to FIRST Lego League.
- $75 is the cost of this year’s Challenge Kit
- If you are sharing a table with another team, you will also share this $75 cost.
- You just need one Challenge Kit per table.
- This kit has the pieces that, when assembled, become the obstacles around which your robot will navigate to complete its challenges
- Assembling the challenge kit is a fun part of your early meetings.
8. Sign up for a Regional Competition
- Local competitions are usually on Saturdays. A mid-November competition happens in Abingdon. In early December, competitions happen in both Johnson City and Kingsport.
- Click here to search for events in the USA near you
- On the left, under “Filter,”
- select Event (rather than Team) and then
- checkbox only FIRST Lego League.
- Enter your zipcode
- Click on appropriate links for events listed, to find out how to register your team for an event.
- Events typically cost about $100 for a team to register.
9. Calendar Reservations for all team members and coaches for an ALL DAY competition.
- Go to the link listed in #8 to find a competition near you.
- Competition day will probably be on a Saturday between mid-November and mid-January.
- Can be screen printed or just homemade
- A key part of team spirit on competition day
- You can also wear your shirts when you go on outings together (see field trips mentioned in #3).
11. Action by early September!
- Each year, FIRST Lego League sells Challenge Kits (see #7) until they sell out.
- You can go ahead and order one now.
- Using this starter kit, your team can begin to assemble the Mission Models which will become the “3D” parts of your competition table.
- “The Challenge” is a description of the missions your robot has accomplish by navigating around the table obstacles. Different missions result in different points. The goal: maximize how many points your robot earns in 2.5 minutes.
- The global release date for each year’s challenge is in late August.
- So, don’t delay starting your team!
12. OPTIONAL: These books are great resources.
You can find more information by going to…