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.

10.Team T-shirts

  • 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.

The Art of Programming with EV3

The Lego Mindstorms EV3 Idea Book

You can find more information by going to…

The USA First Lego League website

The international FIRST Lego League website