TEAM/ COACH FAQ
Check out the compiled list of frequently asked questions! Click each question to find out more about the answer and available resources. You can also find more FAQ pages geared towards students/parents, educators/admin, volunteers, and more specific FAQ sections about the Robot Game, Innovation Project, and Team Funding.
What are the rules for participating in a FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge tournament?
There are just a few general participation guidelines, as well as guidelines for our regional qualifying tournaments. To read more about those specific guidelines, check out this resource from FIRST.
In order to compete in regional qualifying tournaments, teams should fit the following criteria.
– A competitive team consists of 2-10 team members, ages 9-14**
– A team must complete the national FIRST registration and the regional VA+DC FLL registration (Find all the steps here!)
– All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team.
– All team members attending an event are required to participate in the judging session, and be present as a team at the Robot Game matches.
** VA+DC FLL may approve an individual’s participation request below or above the age range due to special circumstances or needs. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who can coach a FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge team?
Teachers, parents, and technology professionals all make excellent coaches. The coach must be 18 years or older and should have the desire to explore side-by-side with students and have good communication, prioritizing, and multitasking skills. The coach’s role is to facilitate instruction and optimize the learning experience of the team members by allowing independent thought. Direct adult involvement or intervention during the problem-solving process is strongly discouraged.
Coaches handle all the operational details: where and when to meet, organizing help for snacks, team costumes, etc. Coaches do not need technical expertise, but must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of the programming environment and LEGO® robot building. As the leader of a FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge registered team, the coach will have access to robot kits, team Challenge kits, software and building instructional manuals from FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge.
FIRST Youth Protection Policy – All team coaches, mentors, event volunteers, etc are expect to follow the FIRST Code of Conduct and undergo a Background Screening (provided by FIRST c/o Verified Volunteers- Sterling Talent Solutions. Read more about these policies here: https://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/youth-protection-policy
What kind of practice space does a FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge team need?
Teams need enough space to build and test the robot on the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge playing field (contained in the Challenge Kit). The playing field is a 8′ x 4′ mat upon which LEGO® pieces and various elements are arranged to create the Challenge missions.
Additional materials (such as two-by-fours) must be purchased separately to build a border around the playing field. Setup can be as simple as clearing an area on the floor, or your team may opt to build an official FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge table. It is not mandatory, but highly encouraged. Some teams have found it advantageous to share a playing field with other teams in their area.
What kind of computer is needed for a FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge team?
Teams must have access to either a Mac or a PC with an internet connection. Internet access and a valid email address are mandatory to maintain contact with FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge throughout the Challenge season. The computer is used to develop programs for the team’s robot. Programs are easily downloaded to the programmable LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3/ LEGO® Spike Prime robot controller via a USB cable. You can find those on our Robot Game Resources.
If your team attends a local event or state tournament, you will need an on-site computer for the day of the competition. A laptop is best. Robot programs are often modified to accommodate the specific conditions of the tournament setting and to improve robot performance.
Does our team have to follow the sessions provided in the Team Meeting Guide/ Engineering Notebooks?
The Team Meeting Guide and Engineering Notebook are two resources provided to coaches that lay out 12 sessions to help guide the team through the season challenge. Teams are not required to use or follow those resources, but they do provide important pieces of information like the Innovation Project details and how to download software. They also contain helpful resources like Project Sparks to get the team started, tips on how to integrate Core Values into all of your sessions, and questions to think about when preparing for a competition.
This season FIRST is sending two Team Meeting Guides, two Engineering Notebooks, and one Robot Game Rulebook. FIRST has made all of these materials and more available on the FIRST Team Dashboard. After teams have completed the national registration, they can digitally access these resources under the “Access Thinkscape” tab on the FIRST Team Dashboard. For more instructions on how to access these resource, check this out!
How can our team find a mentor or veteran team to provide expert advice?
Mentors and experienced teams can help students gain the skills and confidence to forge ahead and build their future with FIRST. Through more powerful mentorship relationships, your team will learn to use their collective skills to make a positive impact on each other, in their community, and even the world.
FIRST Mentor Network – an interactive platform allowing mentors to find FIRST teams to work with virtually or face to face, locally or across the country, for a few hours or for a season. Learn more and create your team profile today!
Join the LISTSERV to connect with other coaches – Veteran FLL Challenge teams are sometimes looking to mentor teams and engage in other community outreach opportunities. The VA+DC FLL Listserv is an email communication network of regional coaches and volunteers. By reaching out to the ListServ, you may be able to connect with a team looking to mentor!
For more Innovation Project resources, such as virtual experts and field trips, check out this page!
How does my team register for a tournament?
You begin the two-level registration process with national FIRST® registration. When you complete the short process (around 20 minutes) and pay your registration fee, you will receive an official team number and other supplemental materials.
Once your team is registered with FIRST® nationally, the coach or team representative should register with VA+DC FIRST® LEGO® League. Registering with VA+DC FLL will allow you to participate in the tournament selection process in December and the opportunity to compete in local competitions, qualifiers, and regional championships.
You can find all the information you need about registering your team here!
How are teams judged at competitions and what awards are there for FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge Teams?
Teams are judged on Core Values, Innovation Project, Robot Design, and Robot Game, with each part being weighted equally. Core Values, Innovation Project, and Robot Design are judged during a consolidated judging session using the Official Judging Rubrics. The Robot Game is evaluated using the Robot Game Scoresheet (found on page 30/31 of the MASTERPIECE Robot Game Rulebook). Teams will have at least three 2.5 minute rounds at the robot game table to accomplish as many missions as they can. Their best score will be used to rank teams.
At each VA-DC FLL Tournament, awards are given out based on Division (ie. Division 1 Champion’s Award and Division 2 Champion’s Award). You can find a list of required awards here. Additionally, VA-DC FLL awards at least one Judges Award at each event, which could include the optional awards listed here or celebrate other team achievements!
Does FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge have an official policy on how teams advance to the regional Championship Event from qualifying tournaments?