Starting a FIRST LEGO League Team

FIRST LEGO League is an intellectual competition that mixes LEGO robotics, research into real world problems, and the development of soft skills. Teams are hosted by schools, churches, scouts, neighborhoods, homeschool groups, etc, in fact, anybody with interest and the willingness to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals are welcome to host a team.

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TEAM REQUIREMENTS

To be eligible to compete in the FIRST LEGO League teams must comply with a minimum set of conditions.

  • A competitive team consists of a minimum of two and a maximum of ten children. Additional kids can be associated (for example, alternatives) with the team, but only teams sizes of 2 to 10 are allowed on the day of the event.
  • 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.
  • A team must be registered and fully paid in their national registration system to sign up for official events. Additional event fees may apply. In South Carolina there are additional event fees that are paid to the South Carolina FIRST LEGO League.
  • Team members must be between the ages of 9 and 14. No team member may be outside the maximum allowed age prior to January 1 of the year the Challenge is released. In South Carolina we do allow children under the age of 9 to compete. It is at the discretion of the coaches to decide if the child is mature enough for the program. Regardless of team members’ ages, all teams are treated equally at events.
  • Each team member can only participate on one FIRST team.
  • All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team.
  • Teams must be coached by at least two adult mentors, both of which must complete the FIRST Youth Protection Program screening process. Coaches can mentor multiple teams.

RoboDolphins Team Picture

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STARTING YOUR OWN TEAM

How to Start a FIRST LEGO League Team flyerSo you’re interested in starting your own team. Great! FIRST has put together the flyer, How to Start an FIRST LEGO League Team to help you out. Here are some suggestions to get you going,

  • Hold an informational meeting for your school or group in spring or very early in August – explain the program, time frame, costs, and the need for volunteer coaches!
  • Talk to parents, your PTO/PTA, your principal, your school district, or an interested teacher.  Most teams are coached by teachers and parents.
  • Recruit another co-coach. At least 2 coaches per team are required.
  • There are always interested kids, they just need a coach.  No experience is necessary to coach.

For more information head over to Start a FIRST LEGO League Team.

We also have a step-by-step team registration guide for coaches to follow.

Remember a good coach does not need to be an engineer or a professional programmer. All it takes to be a great coach is the passion to guide these kids on a wonderful journey.

Rookie teams should expect about a $1000 budget. This includes the $299 program registration fee to FIRST (which now also includes the challenge set), purchasing a LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robot and expansion set at $489, the $75 entry fee into a South Carolina qualifying event, and any incidentals associated with the Project props, team identity (e.g. tee-shirts), and travel. This budget does not include the cost of a computer for programming the robot. For a complete breakdown of the budget head over the Pricing & Payment page at FIRST.

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REGISTRATION PROCESS

Registering a FIRST LEGO League team is a three step process. Below is an outline of the steps in the order that they must be completed.

STEP 1 — Register with FIRST

Teams begin their registration process by identifying a head coach and having that individual make a FIRST profile at http://www.firstinspires.org/.

Once the head coach has a profile they log into their FIRST profile. On their personal dashboard there’s an option to “Create a Team”. Click on this link and follow the instruction. At this time new teams are assigned a temporary team number while returning teams are reassigned their old numbers.

STEP 2 — Complete the Youth Protection Program Requirements

Every FIRST LEGO League team is required to have two adult coaches that have completed the background screening process as part of the FIRST Youth Protection Program. The team registration process cannot be finalized until two adults have completed their background screening. Instructions and links to the screening process are found on the team profile page.

STEP 3 — Pay the Registration Fee

After two coaches have completed the Youth Protection Program requirements log back into the team profile page and you’ll be able to pay the registration fee of $299 program registration fee to FIRST. This fee is not paid to the South Carolina FIRST LEGO League. At this time new teams are assigned an official team number; their temporary team number goes away.

Teams are not considered registered until they have two screened coaches and have paid their registration fee.

 

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DEADLINES

In South Carolina team registration for the FIRST LEGO League season closes on the first Friday of October.

To be considered registered, teams must have two coaches that have completed the FIRST Youth Protection Program screening process and have paid the program registration fee to FIRST. Teams are not required to submit a final team rosters as part of the registration process.

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