VA+DC FIRST® LEGO® League
COVID-19 UPDATES

Updated September 16, 2021

As we navigate another unusual and challenging season, we will be considering guidance from the CDC, state/local authorities, and FIRST to meet the needs of our communities.

As you get started, this guide is designed to provide suggestions and options, but it is intentionally not prescriptive. Considerations for what is best for your local situation should be prioritized. Local health and safety regulations and guidance should precede any of the recommendations in this guide.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, submit them here.


Update: September 2021
We will be running our official FLL Regional Qualifying season during the first 3 weeks of November 2021.  These events will be held in a hybrid format (see below) and teams can find a *tentative* schedule HERE (be sure to change the setting to November).  We will also be holding an unofficial FLL Remote season in February of 2022 of all FIRST LEGO League teams who are interested.  

HYBRID EVENT FORMAT:  (Attend our next Coach Chat on 9/23 to hear more the hybrid format)

  • All judging will be remote this year, using the consolidated format.  Likely the judging will be during the week (after school) 
  • We’re moving forward with plans for in-person robot game on the tournament day. The Closing Ceremony may be held in-person or virtually depending on the tournament.
  • The number of teams at these events will depend on the location (space needed to keep things safe, limitations from the venues, etc)
  • We will be requiring masks from all event participants.  Only team members and 2 coach/mentors will be permitted and there will be no spectators.
  • With all the uncertainty plans may have to change as we get closer to the events.  We will be releasing more guidance on this soon!
  • Visit this page to find out how you can get your team registered for a VA-DC FLL Regional Qualifying Tournament

Update: August 2021
We are planning to run in-person or hybrid official regional qualifiers in November and the championship event in December of 2021.  Additionally, we plan to hold unofficial, non-advancing remote events in January and February of 2022 .  Because this is such a “hands-on” program, we are working to deliver safe in-person events, so they will look different from previous years.  We are prepared to pivot to remote events if we are not able to keep all volunteers and teams safe at in-person events.  If we need to make that shift, they will most likely be a shift in the season timeline to accommodate those changes.

Though event dates have not been posted, when the schedule is released, you will be able to find it here.


Update: November 2020
VA-DC FIRST LEGO League will be holding our competitive regional qualifying tournaments and the Championship Event in a remote event format. Read more about this announcement and what the season will look like HERE.


Update: September/October 2020
As many schools start virtually and in-person gatherings are still restricted, VA+DC FIRST LEGO League has put together resources for teams as they navigate the season during COVID-19. This list is continuously getting updated.

MANAGING YOUR TEAM DURING COVID-19

With safety/ health guidelines in place and many teams meeting virtually, the Innovation Project is easier to adjust to than the Robot Game. Because of this, many teams are starting the season with the project. All project resources in the Team Meeting Guide and Engineering Notebook are digitally available through Thinkscape (teams will only have access after FIRST® registration is complete). These ideas and suggestions can be used by teams that can meet in person and teams that must meet virtually.

Virtual Meeting Spaces: Here is a great breakdown of the different platforms teams can us to meet virtually, including helpful tips for running a virtual meeting. Many teams like using Zoom, because it allows for “breakout rooms” in which members can talk in small groups, then come back to the team.
Project Inspiration: FIRST has included lots of inspiration resources within Thinkscape including images, articles, and videos. They also put together this list with resources all related to the Cargo Connect season!
Project Documentation: Teams can use platforms like Google Classroom/Docs, Microsoft Teams, Trello, or Redbooth. There isn’t one right answer, but the most important thing is that it works for the students. The more ownership they take over the project, the better the experience for kids and adults. If your team is looking for more project documentation resources, check out this resources from FLL Tutorials.
Virtual Experts/ Field Trips: Start and refine your innovation project with the help of virtual experts and field trips. Tip: Reach out to people within your “community” first. It could be local experts or professionals (think family, friends, local schools and governments). You can also find virtual experts and field trips below.
Prototyping: According to the Innovation Project Rubric, teams need to “create a prototype model/ drawing.” Teams meeting virtually can create hand or computer-based designs for their prototype. Here are a few CAD (computer-aided design) options for teams to check out:
Autodesk (ages 11+)
Autodesk Tinkercad (ages 7+)
LeoCAD
Studio 2.0 by BrickLink (How to use)
SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids
SOLIDWORKS – Student sponsorship

Every team is going to approach the problems presented by COVID-19 differently, because our VA+DC teams are formed in a variety of ways (school, home, community) across a large region! This is a growing list of ways in which teams in our area are handling the robot game. Many of these ideas depend on a team’s situation, so the list is made up of suggestions and is not prescriptive. Let us know what you come up with!

If your team can meet in person…
– Practice all guidelines from the CDC and state/ local health agencies (practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash hands and materials often)
– Purchase 1 extra RePLAY Challenge Set or up to 5 game mats (no mission models) through your team’s FIRST dashboard to allow for more social distancing or different meeting locations
– Meet in large or outdoor spaces (garages, gyms, etc) to allow for more social distancing
– Work in consistent cohorts to reduce exposure. Groups can meet virtually to catch each other up and plan their next steps.

If your team cannot meet in person…
Mission Models: Deliver one “set” of numbered bags to each team member. Have a virtual build party. Coach then collects the models. Learn more -pg2
Mission Strategy: Use the FLL Tutorial Sketch Planner and the (unofficial) Game Scorer to plan the team’s mission strategy.
Robot Design: Have members use Studio 2.0 by BrickLink to create the teams robot in CAD. Designs can be duplicated, which could be helpful with documentation. Find out how to use Studio 2.0
Pseudocode: Have members work on pseudocode for missions using either the Cargo Connect wireframe grid or the FLL Tutorial Sketch Planner (w/ measurements!)
Remotely Programming: Use “Chrome Remote Desktop” or other platform to have members remotely control the computer connected to the robot. Learn more -pg3
Remote Robot Game Practice: Get tips on how to run a remote robot game practice. Members could email code to whoever has the game table ,then team could work on testing/revising during a virtual meeting. Learn more -pg5
Multiple robots: With many schools and organizations not meeting in person, there may be unused robots/ kits that can be distributed to team members. There are grant opportunities that could allow teams to purchase extra equipment.
– Multiple game mats: FIRST is allowing teams to purchase 1 additional challenge set ($75) or up to 5 additional mats ($25) per team. Teams can purchase these items through their FIRST dashboard. ** Cargo Connect Update: FIRST has not made the decision on if it can accommodate multiple mission model sets/mats


Update: August 2020
Virginia+DC FIRST LEGO League announced that the tournament styles will be hybrid, or fully remote. Hybrid will consist of in person robot rounds and remote judging while fully remote events will consist of ALL aspects of the competition remain online and remote.  Read more here. See an updated season overview.


Update: July 2020
Virginia+DC FIRST LEGO League made the announcement that it would be pushing back the FLL Challenge competition season to January-February 2021. Read more here. See an updated season overview.