Welcome to FIRST LEGO League Challenge!
FIRST LEGO League Challenge introduces science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children ages 9-14* through fun, exciting hands-on learning. Participants gain real-world problem-solving experience through a guided, global robotics program, helping today’s students and teachers build a better future together.
FIRST LEGO League Challenge combines the engineering challenge of a robotics competition with real-world problem solving and inventing. Team members learn science and technology skills and valuable employment and life skills at the same time. The FIRST Core Values are the cornerstones of the program. They are among the fundamental elements that distinguish FIRST LEGO League Challenge from other programs of its kind. By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.
The FIRST Core Values
We express the FIRST® philosophies of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® through our Core Values:
- Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
- Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
- Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
- Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
- Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
- Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
FIRST LEGO League Challenge gives elementary and middle school students and their adult coaches the opportunity to work together to research a real-world problem, then create an original solution for that problem, plus design and build a robot using a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® kit* to accomplish “missions” on a playing field. The theme changes each season, requiring teams to be extraordinarily creative.
FIRST redefines “winning” by rewarding teams for achievements not necessarily gained on the field of play—excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, Gracious Professionalism®, community outreach, and more. Winning is always secondary to the quality of the overall experience.
After a few months of meeting, researching, building, and programming, teams compete in a qualifying tournament. During the qualifiers, teams visit with judges about their project, their robot, and their team; and complete a practice round on the robot table. After a high-energy opening ceremony around noon, the official robot games begin. The day closes with recognition and awards.
Any group can create a team: schools, home schools, community groups, churches or just some friends who wish to do something awesome. Technical experience is not required.
In 2018-19, 82 percent of FIRST LEGO League teams in the region were affiliated with an elementary or middle school, with the remaining teams coming from groups of family/friends, homeschool groups or youth organizations.
Because teams are structured in so many ways—from after-school programs to youth groups to parent-run teams—Colorado FIRST cannot match individual children with existing teams or share team contact information.
We recommend checking with your local school to see if a team exists or if there is interest in starting one and with the high school team from your district. Some other options:
• Start your own team; no experience is needed
• Volunteer at FIRST events to meet coaches and mentors
• Share the FIRST for Educators with your school to encourage formation of new teams
• Post on our Facebook Page and ask if coaches have openings
New teams can expect to budget approximately $1,000 for their first year. The average cost for a returning team is $500. Teams can divide costs among members or secure grants and sponsorships.
One Time Fees
- ~$500 for the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 or LEGO Education SPIKE Prime Robotics platform. This is the robot kit, including software and parts to build and program your robot. This can be purchased separately or during team registration.
- ~$80 to build a 4’x8’ game table for the Robot Game. Specifications are here.
- A computer for programming (Windows or Mac). Price varies and not included in the registration fee.
- $225 + $12 S&H = FIRST Team Registration.
- $75 + $15 S&H = Challenge Set and mat.
- $100 = Qualifying tournament Registration.
- Presentation Materials
- Project Research Costs
- Team Shirts
Teams have at least 12 weeks between the challenge release and the season’s first Qualifying Tournament in November. The coach and team can determine just how much time to dedicate. Some teams work on skill-building year-round; others may only meet once or twice a week before their event. Because teamwork is so important, parents should arrange to have their child attend most, if not all, team meetings.
Each team attends a full-day Qualification Tournament for a chance to advance to the Colorado Regional Championship Tournament.
FIRST LEGO League Challenge opens for registration in May and with the global season concluding in April. (See timeline from FIRST headquarters here.)
Colorado qualifiers take place on Saturdays during November. Each team just attends one. A quarter of the teams who compete in the qualifiers advance to the Colorado Regional Championship in December.
Teams spend August through October getting ready for the tournaments, typically meeting at least once a week.
Contact us for ideas to help you bring the FIRST LEGO League Challenge program to your students. Use the form in the sidebar to let us know you’re interested or contact Katherine Aschenberg, Colorado FIRST Programs Director.
You’ll be surprised how simple and rewarding it is to bring this inspiring program to your school or organization.
JOIN OR START A TEAM
We get asked this question a lot. People who see this amazing program at work want to know how they can get their kids involved, too. To be honest, it’s tough to find open teams. Most are started by schools, youth organizations, and motivated parents. FIRST youth protection and privacy policies do not allow us to disclose contact information of existing teams and coaches. However, there are a few ‘usual suspects’ you can ask:
- Check with your child’s school to see if they have or want to start an after-school team. Find that motivated math or science teacher.
- Look for independent organizations that you are involved with who might want to start a team. This could be churches, 4-H, boy/girl scouts, libraries, and neighbors.
- Start talking about the program with your child’s friends; you might find there’s a parent out there who would also want to provide their children with this opportunity, and you can all work together as coaches/mentors.
But how can I guarantee my child will be able to participate this season?
The only way to be 100% sure your child is able to participate in the upcoming season is to form a new team. This sounds daunting, but the good news is that you are not on your own! The first step is to find similarly interested youth and their parents to help form the team. Start asking your child’s friends and their parents. Check with your neighborhood association, home school group, scout troop, church, or any other organizations, clubs, or sports teams with which your family is involved to see if there is interest in forming a robotics team. FIRST LEGO League Challenge teams can have 2-10 youth team members, and finding the interested kids is never the barrier!
- You get to pick the participants.
- You get to pick the meeting times and location.
- As coach, you become a role model.
- You get a ring-side seat to observe the creativeness of your team.
- You get to see the world through their eyes.
- Recruit 2 adult coaches (age 18 or older). Think outside the box: coaches can be older siblings, college-aged babysitters, grandparents, work colleagues, or neighbors who miss their own far-away grandkids. If two adults supervise, the boots-on-the-ground coaches who are actually working with the kids can even be high school students. (This is a win-win: the younger children respect the older students, and the high school kids enjoy the interaction and can often receive credit for required volunteer hours for their IB, Honors, or other diploma programs. Also, older FIRST robotics teams love to coach teams as one of their “outreach” activities–sometimes, they just need you to approach them and ask!)
- Recruit (minimum of 2, maximum of 10) children between the ages of 9 and 14. Children may be on only one team. (However, coaches may coach more than one team.)
- Create an account, register your team, order materials, and pay for your team on the FIRST headquarters website here.
- Find more details about starting a team here
- Set up team meetings.
- Register for a tournament. Find the schedule here.
No special skills are needed! You do not need any experience or background in robotics or programming. Adults act as team facilitators; the children teach themselves. Students develop skills through trial and error, sharing ideas with one another, and researching the current year’s theme.
Coaches register teams using the dashboard on the FIRST headquarters website. Create an account here to access your dashboard.
You do NOT need to know the children’s names on your team before you register your team. You may add the children’s names at a later date.
One coach registers the team, but each coach needs their own FIRST account. The first coach who registers will “invite” the second coach to create their own account and “accept” the coaching role.
Site coordinators for schools or youth organizations can sign up as a Team Administrator (or “purchaser”) to register team(s) and then invite coaches to join the team. Please note: Purchasers do not have to complete Youth Protection Program screening, so they will not have access to the team roster. If you want that access, you must register as a coach. Many teams do not have anyone in that Purchaser role.
Coaches authorize FIRST to complete the required background screening (at no cost to the coaches) and agree to the Youth Protection Program rules.
Purchaser or coach pays for registration fee and materials ordered.
Once FIRST receives the payment, they will assign an official team number to your team.
Funding opportunity for U.S. teachers:
U.S. public and charter school teachers may receive funding for LEGO® Education robot kits and LEGO® building sets from LEGO Education thanks an opportunity from NewsCorp & DonorsChoose.org. Learn more.
Other ways to think about funding teams:
- School-sponsored teams usually charge a nominal student activity fee to cover their costs. The LEGO kits become the property of the school, to support future FIRST LEGO League teams.
- Family or community group-sponsored teams generally approach budget in one of two ways: 1) They split the entire cost among all participating families. Teams use the same LEGO kit each year, so the cost averages out over several years, if you start the team young and have returning members each year. The team would need to come to an agreement about what to do with the kit when the team is no longer meeting. OR 2) The coaches or community groups buy the LEGO kit (and then keep those materials when the team is no longer meeting) and then ask the families to pay a fee to cover the registration and other incidental costs.
- You can look for sponsors among businesses in your community or among business owners in your team members’ families.
If you need more inspiration, contact us for ideas to help you bring the FIRST LEGO League Explore program to your students. Use the form in the side bar to let us know you’re interested or contact Katherine Aschenberg, Colorado FIRST Programs Director.
You’ll be surprised how simple and rewarding it is to bring this inspiring program to your school or organization.
Have a Question or Comment?
We want to hear from you!
FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge RePLAYSM
Coming August 4, 2020.
This robotics season, we’re stepping into the world of sports, play, and fitness – moving, collaborating, competing, and celebrating. In RePLAYSM, FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge students will explore the activities we can do in different spaces for play and how we can ensure that our games and activities are fun and accessible for everyone involved.
- PLAYMAKERS Challenge Summary : available in August 2020
- Team Meeting Guide-coach will receive 1 with paid team registration; also, coach will have digital access to a PDF copy
- Engineering Notebooks-coach will receive 6 with paid team registration; also, coach will have digital access to a PDF copy
- LEGO Explore Set building elements-coach will receive with paid team registration.
- PLAYMAKERS Explore Set building instructions-will be available in August 2020.
- WeDo 2.0 Software Download – available for free at any time, with compatible electronic device (works with iPad; Windows 10, 8.1, and 7; Mac OS; Chromebook; and Android)
- Consent and Release Form (This form must be completed before participation in any official FIRST event, in person or remotely. To better protect your personal information, FIRST respectfully requests that all participants or their legal guardians complete this form through their Dashboard, after creating a FIRST account; as a last resort, this printed form may be used.)
- PLAYMAKERS Challenge Summary : available in August 2020
Changes from past seasons:
- “FIRST LEGO League Jr.” is now called FIRST LEGO League Explore. This is simply a refreshing of the FIRST LEGO League brand, which does not affect the content or goals of the program.
- Bring on the tech! Like last year’s BOOMTOWN BUILD, PLAYMAKERS requires teams to use WeDo or WeDo 2.0 in the Challenge model. Don’t worry—kids love to code and the updated guide books provide specific suggestions for how to integrate learning about programming into your team meetings and how to incorporate their use in the Challenge.
- FIRST LEGO League Explore now has an even greater emphasis on the Engineering Design Process, encouraging the kids to constantly revisit the cycle: Explore, Create/Test, and Share.
- The “Inspire Set” is now called an Explore Set. Like previous years’ sets, we anticipate that it will have over 700 building elements and six small gray base plates.
- As in the 2019-20 season, using all the provided base plates increases the model footprint to a maximum 30″ ×15″. Base plates can be used in any combination and position. If you have one of the more traditional 15″ x 15″ base plates, your team is welcome to use that base plate, instead. There is no height limit, but your team should keep ease of transportation to Festivals in mind when building.
- “Expos” are now called Festivals. This is simply a name change, which does not affect the content or goals of these culminating events.
Funding opportunity for teachers in the United States:
Partial funding for FIRST LEGO League Explore team materials is available to U.S. public and charter school teachers, thanks to NewsCorp & DonorsChoose.org. Teachers can receive funding for LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 robot kits and LEGO® building sets from LEGO Education!
Festivals are non-competitive approximately three-hour events where teams celebrate their hard work, make new friendships and share their projects with the community.
Each team discusses its Challenge research, Show Me Poster, and LEGO model with FIRST LEGO League Explore reviewers. Colorado does not require or expect presentations; teams should think of their time with Reviewers as a conversation to communicate and show off what they have learned and experienced.
Team building and demonstrations, including robot action, from the other FIRST programs, round out the Festival. Finally, the event concludes with a fun awards and closing ceremony. In FIRST LEGO League Explore, everyone is a winner!
In Colorado, official Festivals take usually take place on select Saturdays Sundays, scheduled between November and May; occasionally, Festivals will be scheduled on a weeknight. Festivals will occur throughout the state, where there is a confluence of teams, and several times during the season in areas of greater team density. Festivals typically run 9 a.m. to noon, but the time frame may vary, depending on the host site.
Watch for dates, locations, and other details to be posted on this site later in the season. Once the schedule is posted, coaches can register their teams by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Festivals are free for teams, but registration is required to hold your spot. All events are open to the public at no charge, within current restrictions for facility capacity.
Festivals are the non-competitive culminating event for FIRST LEGO League Explore teams to showcase their learning at the end of their season. If you are interested in hosting a Festival in your area for the 2020-21 season, please e-mail email@example.com, and we’ll step you through the easy process.
A Festival can be a very simple, streamlined event that can be run with very few volunteers! It’s easier than you may think and a great benefit to the kids! Thanks for considering the opportunity!
The current sites can be found on the Festival schedule page.
Events for our region are booked and scheduled in advance. Event hosts have the authority to cancel an event, if the host facility determines conditions to be unsafe. This policy applies to inclement weather or any other public safety issue. If an event is not cancelled, it is up to the discretion of the parents and coach to determine whether or not they will attend. If an event is cancelled, coaches will receive information about alternative formats for the event, rescheduling of the event, or possibilities for registering for later events.
Our intent is that each FIRST LEGO League Explore team will participate in only one Festival. We want 100% of our region’s teams to experience these invaluable opportunities for learning, communication, and celebration. Our host sites have limited capacity, so we appreciate your help in achieving our goal of 100% participation by only registering for one Festival, so all teams can take advantage of open slots. When there are more teams in a geographical area than we have capacity for at Festivals, we do everything we can to create new Festivals in that area.
Coach Training Sessions (free; optional)
If you are a rookie coach or other interested adult and would like to register for any of the FREE Training/Information Sessions below, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your team number, if you have one. Training is intended for adults only; team members do NOT attend. You would only attend ONE session, as the information at each is the same. We focus our training sessions on attending coaches’ specific needs and questions and will include training on the WeDo 2.0.