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FLL 101: A Beginner's Guide to FIRST Lego League

Updated: Apr 23

Our robotics team, TEAM X, has been on a mission to spread the excitement of STEM and robotics in our local schools and communities. From science fairs to engineering expos, we've met many enthusiastic kids and parents who are eager to jump into the world of robotics but just don't know where to start. That's where we come in!


In this blog, we'll guide you through the exciting world of robotics and help you take your first steps toward becoming a robotics master. Whether you're a kid itching to build your first robot or a parent looking to support your child's STEM journey, TEAM X got you covered.


 

FLL Discover vs Explore vs Challenge


The journey into robotics can start as early as age 4 with programs like FLL Discover. In Discover, our little ones are introduced to the basics of STEM while working together to solve fun challenges and build models using LEGO® bricks. It's like a mini-robotics adventure for the youngest minds, sparking their curiosity and creativity!


As kids progress into FLL Explore (ages 6-10), they take their STEM knowledge to the next level. They work in teams to design and build robots using LEGO Education SPIKE, diving deeper into hands-on learning and teamwork. This sets the stage for their future in robotics, laying a solid foundation of skills and enthusiasm.


And when they're ready to take on the big leagues, they join the FLL Challenge. Here, they apply their STEM skills and critical thinking to work with a team, build a robot, and compete in an exciting, mission-based Robot Game. It's the ultimate test of their skills and creativity, pushing them to think outside the box and innovate in ways they never imagined!


But it's not just about the competition. Along the way, students gain valuable learning habits, confidence, and teamwork skills. It's a journey of growth and discovery that extends far beyond the robotics field, shaping them into well-rounded individuals ready to take on any challenge that comes their way.


 

What are the steps to follow?


So, you're excited about robotics and ready to start your own team? That's fantastic! Forming a robotics team is a rewarding experience that can teach you valuable skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity.



Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started:


Step 1: Gather Your Crew

First things first, you'll need a team! Reach out to friends, classmates, or other kids in your community who share your interest in robotics. Aim for a team size of 3-6 members, as this is ideal for collaboration and sharing responsibilities.


Step 2: Find a Coach and a Mentor

Having a coach and a mentor can indeed make a world of difference. Look for adults in your community who have experience with robotics, engineering, or programming. They can provide guidance, support, and help you navigate the world of robotics. Our team, TEAM X, would love to be a mentor and can help guide the way.


Step 3: Choose a Name and Identity

Get creative and come up with a cool name for your team! This is your chance to showcase your team's personality and values. Design a logo and create a team identity that sets you apart from the rest.


Step 4: Register Your Team

Visit the official FIRST website (https://www.firstinspires.org/) to register your team. You'll need to provide some basic information about your team and pay a registration fee. This fee helps support the FIRST organization and gives you access to resources and support.


Step 5: Get Your Robot Starer Kit

To compete in robotics competitions, you'll need a robot kit. The LEGO Mindstorms kit is a popular choice for beginners, as it's easy to use and provides a good introduction to robotics. You can purchase a kit online.

We recommend buying kits and bundles from LEGO Education, as they are much cheaper compared to purchasing from Amazon or retail stores..

Step 6: Set Goals and Plan Your Season

Sit down with your team and decide what you want to achieve this season. Do you want to compete in a robotics competition? Do you want to focus on learning new skills? Setting clear goals will help you stay motivated and focused throughout the season.

FLL Challenge also has an innovation project, in addition to the robot. Plan for both the Robot and the Project

Step 7: Learn and Practice

Now it's time to dive into the world of robotics! Spend time learning how to build and program your robot using your kit. Practice running your robot on different surfaces and obstacles to get a feel for how it performs.


Step 8: Participate in Competitions and Events

Once you feel confident in your skills, it's time to put them to the test! Participate in local robotics competitions, science fairs, and other events to showcase your robot and skills. This is a great way to meet other teams, learn from their experiences, and have fun!


Step 9: Reflect and Improve

After each competition or event, take some time to reflect on what went well and what could be improved. Use this feedback to make adjustments and improve your robot and team for future events.


Step 10: Have Fun and Keep Learning

Most importantly, remember to have fun! Robotics is all about learning, growing, and having fun along the way. Keep exploring new ideas, learning new skills, and challenging yourself to be the best robot builder you can be!


So there you have it, a step-by-step guide to forming your own robotics team. Whether you're just starting out or already have some experience, forming a robotics team is a great way to learn new skills, make friends, and have fun!

 

How much does it cost?


Estimating the budget for a First Lego League (FLL) team can vary based on several factors, including the team's size, resources, and competition goals. Here's a general breakdown of potential expenses for an FLL team:


Expense

Estimated Cost Range

Registration Fees

$250-$300 per event

Robotics Kit

$500-$700

Field Setup Kit

$75-$100

Additional Materials

$300-$500

Travel and Accommodation

Varies

Team Apparel and Merchandise

$50-$100 per team member

Miscellaneous Expenses

$50-$100

Total

$1,200-$1,700+

In total, the estimated budget for an FLL team for one season could range from $1,200 to $1,700 or more, depending on the team's specific needs and goals. It's important to plan ahead and budget accordingly to ensure a successful and enjoyable season for your team. TEAM X has a variety of LEGO kits from previous years, which can help reduce some of the costs associated with starting a robotics team.

 

Can I join an existing team?


Yes, you can join an existing FIRST Lego League (FLL) team! Many teams welcome new members, and it's a great way to get involved in robotics and STEM. If you're interested in joining a team in your local community, TEAM X can help connect you with a team that suits your grade level and location. Whether you're in elementary, middle, or high school, there's a team out there for you. Just let us know your age, grade level and location, and we'll help find the perfect fit for you! If interested in joining an existing team, please reach us here.

Note: Finding a spot in an existing team can be challenging. Teams often have their own specific requirements and dynamics!
 

How can I learn more?


If you're looking to deepen your understanding and get more involved, consider volunteering at tournaments! Volunteering is a fantastic way to learn more about how FIRST operates, get a behind-the-scenes look at competitions, and contribute to the success of teams and events. You'll have the opportunity to interact with teams, judges, and other volunteers, gaining valuable insights and experiences along the way. It's a win-win for everyone involved! Find volunteer opportunities near you: https://www.firstinspires.org/ways-to-help/volunteer



 

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