Starting a FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE Challenge Team
Anyone can start a FIRST LEGO League Challenge team. Teams may be made up of neighborhood groups, school groups, home school organizations, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, family members, and after school programs.
If you don’t already have a FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE Challenge team at your school or organization, your best starting point is the FIRST website’s page on Starting a Team. You can review material on preparing for a season, including the Coach’s Manual excerpts and teleconference for new coaches. For many teams, this has all the information they need.
Here are some suggestions to get going:
Identify two or more adults (18 or older) as coaches/mentors.
An adult can coach multiple teams. Coaches don’t need robot or technical experience, but do need to be good organizers and facilitators to keep the team on track.
Recruit 3-10 kids
4-6 kids is an optimal number for many teams. Team members must be 14 or under on January 1 of the season’s starting year to participate. FLL suggests team members be at least 9 years old, but there’s no restriction — younger children can join a team if you think they have the ability and attention span to stay involved. An individual child can be on only one FLL team per season.
Registration opens in May and runs through September, but it’s best to register before mid-September to ensure you get the game pieces in a timely manner.
Work on a budget for your team
The FLL Cost and Registration page has detailed information on registration and product costs. See this page on FIRST INSPIRES for cost estimates.
Select a meeting place and facilitate regular meetings
FLL teams can meet anywhere; the game mat is 8′ x 4′ and it’s easiest to place it on a plywood table. Teams typically meet one or two times per week for up to two hours from September – November, often more frequently as they approach a tournament. The team works not only on designing and programming the robot, but also researching the Project and preparing a 5-minute presentation for the tournament.
Register for a Maryland FLL Qualifying tournament
Maryland FLL holds multiple Qualifiers around the state in December and January so all teams can attend. Registration opens by early November. Top teams at each Qualifier earn the right to compete at the Maryland FLL Championship.
A general estimate of costs for a new team is $800-1000 (including the reusable robot kit), and $400-500 for returning teams. The variable is the cost of extras such as team buttons, shirts, travel, etc. The FLL Cost and Registration page has detailed information on registration and product costs. When you register a team, you can order a Field Setup Kit which includes the Challenge Mat and Mission Models Set; these typically ship in August-September.
Ideas for covering the costs vary from team to team. Some teams are funded by their school or organization, some find community or business sponsors, some charge for each kid to join, others do local fund-raisers, and some do all of the above. Part of the challenge of FLL is to decide what methods work best for your team.
Registered teams can purchase the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Base Set which includes an EV3 robot kit, software and additional parts and sensors. If you already have a LEGO MINDSTORMS consumer kit, you can purchase the Education Software and Education Resource Set through LEGO Education. You will need access to a PC or Mac to run the software.
Last updated on November 10th, 2022