Start a FLL Team
A Typical FLL Season
May - September: Team Registration occurs online. Each year the number of FLL teams are limited, so registration remains open until September or when spots fill. Registering early guarantees your group a spot!
September: That year's challenge is revealed through an online kickoff! Teams log in to see that year's challenge, find out the mission rules, and read the project description so they can get to work.
Mid-october: The deadline for tournament applications usually falls around this time. Registering a team does not mean you've registered for an event, so don't forget to sign up!
November - January: FLL Competitions typically occur during this time.
April: FLL World Fesitival tournament for qualified teams.
Now that you've learned more about what FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is, there are many ways to get involved. Starting a team may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually very easy. All you need is an adult coach, a few interest kids between the ages of 9 and 14, enthusiasm, excitement, and a willingness to try and learn new things!
Teams use the LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits to build and program robots to compete in autonomous tasks. The technology is easy to learn, for both adults and kids, and lots of support is available online and in books. The programming language that comes with the kit contains built-in tutorials that can help make any team successful.
Costs to Participate
The cost to participate in FLL is relatively small. Once you have a kit, you can reuse it and all your components from year to year. You can purchase a special FLL version of the kit upon registration, buy a kit from LEGO Education, or buy it in stores. The FLL kit is certainly the best investment, but is not required for participation. A team registration fee must be paid each year, along with registration fees to events if applicable.
A sample new team budget would be:
Team Registration: $225 (+ taxes and fees)
FLL Kit Purchase: $420 (+ taxes and fees)
FLL Field Setup Kit: $75 (+ taxes and fees)
Tournament fee: varies, $75
Materials to build an official table: $70
Team t-shirts: $2-$10 per shirt
A returning team budget would likely be the same, excluding the FLL Kit Purchase.
In FLL, the kids on teams do not need to be affiliated with a school, but they can be. Sometimes a team is just made up of a group of friends, a class at school, a scout troop, or any group. The only rules are that the kids must be 9-14 year olds, there must be 3-10 team members, and there must be at least one adult coach. The average team size is probably 5-6 kids.
If you do want to have a team associated with a school, some schools will want to run a program that all kids in a grade can participate in. Because teams are limited to 10 students each, it could become quite cost-prohibitive for a school to field several teams to accommodate all the students. In these cases, some schools will register only one or two teams officially through FLL. They will then purchase kits for all teams through LEGO Education (the kits can be used year-round for many great science & technology activities and enrichment programs) and field enough teams for all students to aprticipate. Before the FLL events, they will host an unofficial tournament at their school and the top finishing teams or project presentation performers will get to use the two official spots to compete in FLL tournaments.
Get Everyone Involved
It is natural for a parent or teacher to become the adult coach for a team of kids, but there are times when other parents or members of the community may want to get involved. Help should always be welcome, and here are some ways that others can help your team.
Community Sponsorship: Although FLL is relatively inexpensive to participate in, teams often seek sponsorship throughout the community to offset costs. This can include direct cash donations to support to activities as well as in-kind donations of services and materials. You could host a "LEGO Drive" to collect unused LEGO building blocks for your team to use on their robot and to help promote the program. You could ask a local pizza place to donate a meal for an end-of-season celebration or a t-shirt company to donate team shirts. Always remember to give an sponsors an acknowledgement of their donation and to invite them to watch your tournament!
Parental Support: Parents can help out in many different ways. Parents could switch off hosting team meetings in their homes, or someone could donate garage space to leave a practice table setup during the season. Handy helpers could contrust the FLL tables, while the craftier ones could design a team logo, make costumes, or sew a team banner. Others still could serve as a team photographer or videographer and capture the team's progress. While it is important the the kids be the ones who build and program the robot and develop the project presentation, parents can certainly support any of the other team activities from sponsorship, to travel, and beyond!
Expert Advice: Each year the FLL game is centered around a certain scientific theme. The kids are encouraged to talk to experts in the field as they learn more and develop ideas. Teams can find local experts and setup times to meet them. The team may also ask for different audiences to watch them practice their project presentation and missions and offer guidance and advice on how they can improve. Typically, the judges at an event will be professional adults, likely engineers, professors, or business people, and so it is important that all of the kids fell comfortable talking about their team to others. You may also find mentors in the community to help the kids in areas that are lacking. Maybe an engineer or FIRST Robotics Competition student can teach the kids about gears and pulleys, or a human resources representative or project manager could talk about the importance of working as a team to solve tough problems
Ready to Start a Team?
- Go to the FLL Registration System and signup!
- Join TeamUp to help recruit additional members or mentors.
Last modified: August 14, 2012 15:38:52