FIRST LEGO League: Science, Technology, & Teamwork

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Blog, She Wrote: FIRST LEGO League- Science, Technology, & Teamwork

I don’t blog enough about our FIRST LEGO League teams, but I’ll be catching you all up to date this season. This is the fifth season for our sponsored teams. Our homeschool group started with one team which grew into two teams coached by Dan and another homeschool dad engineer. We have lots of parent help and the teams practice together and so far have done well in competition together as sister teams. This is both teams’ third chance at going to the next round of competition. This year LEGO Da Vinci won First Place Grand Champion while the Disaster Masters won the Project Award.

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) begins with the FIRST Mission

FIRST was started in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, to inspire kids to become scientists and engineers. FLL is all about the science and research with the LEGOs being the hook in a high energy atmosphere.

Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Mr. Kamen had a vision:

“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”  Dean Kamen, Founder

FLL Has Three Components

  • Research project– based on a theme. They must research the theme, choose a topic to become experts on and come up with an innovative solution to a problem they discovered a long the way. They get judged on their solution, how they contacted and worked with experts in the field, and in their presentation of their findings.
  • Robot– including programming, design, and performance. Teams must design and program a robot to perform missions in the robot game. It also includes their presentation to the judges about their robot.
  • Core Values– this is all about teamwork and gracious professionalism. Are teammates working together and treating others they encounter well? At the competition they have a team challenge to complete which tests them in their ability to work together well.

FLL Requires Commitment

The teams practice seven hours a week– one hour at co-op during the semester when Dan teaches the class and two other three hour practices during the week. The guys on LEGO Da Vinci are coming to our house, where we have the table set up, to work on missions this week for some bonus time.

Enjoy a look at just one of the missions. They have just 2.5 minutes to complete as many as they can. Next time I’ll share about their research project. The theme this year is Nature’s Fury and their research has been on blizzards.

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  1. This is our first year with FLL and I can’t say enough wonderful things about the experience. Our project/research has been about hurricanes (near and dear to our hearts living here in Central FL!). I look forward to reading more about your team’s season!

    1. Thanks Susan! FLL is a great activity for kids. My husband has been with it a long time. He’s preparing for his 8th year of running a Junior FLL event in January. This is our FLL team’s third year of getting to the next round of competition. They are looking forward to it!

      My husband has even judged at the World Congress event when it was in Atlanta. It was the year they had a nanotechnology theme and that’s my husband’s area of expertise. Good times! Great teams!

  2. My 9 year old just had his first qualifying match with his FLL team. It was such a fun experience for him. His team studied earthquakes, being in the Bay Area that seemed to make sense. His team came in fourth in points but did well in other areas of competition because they were asked to go onto the next round. They have some work ahead of them to clean up some of their runs so they can consistently gather more points.

    We love FLL! It has been a great experience for my boy. Now my daughter wants to join a team too.

    1. I’m so glad it’s been a good experience! Our daughter has been on the team in the past and is considering joining up again in the fall. Our youngest, who will be 9 in June, can hardly WAIT to be a team member. He’s on a JrFLL team this year again. He’s already programming on the NXT (in C) and is so excited to finally be on a FLL team. My 11yo is also considering it. He wasn’t ready last year, but with my 15yo aging out this season, he’s coming back as a mentor next year and that leaves room for new team members. Good luck to your team at the next round!

    1. Jocelyne,
      The best way to start is to use the website to find a team. Pretty sure they have a team finder feature there. If not, you can contact them to see if they can help.

      4H has also partnered with FIRST to start teams and get kids involved. Some 4H programs are more active with it than others. But that is another place to contact.

      You can also start your own team. That’s what we did because nothing was nearby. It does cost a fair amount to get started, but it is doable. It’s all about the kids too so as a coach you don’t have to be super knowledgeable. Don’t let that be a deal breaker.

      Good luck!

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