Starting a FIRST LEGO League Jr Team

FIRST LEGO League Jr is the entry level program for the FIRST family of robotics programs. Teams consisting of up to six kids, aged 6 to 10, conduct research projects and design autonomous LEGO sculptures related to an annual theme. Teams are hosted by schools, churches, scouts, neighborhoods, homeschool groups, etc.

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TEAM REQUIREMENTS

To be eligible to compete in the FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams must comply with a minimum set of conditions.

  • Two or more adult Coaches willing and motivated to guide the team through the discovery and exhibition season (and beyond) – no special technical experience is required
  • Up to six students ages 6 to 10 willing to put in time after school, usually one or two days per week
  • A suitable meeting place, either public or private, that can accommodate the group, and has internet access
  • LEGO elements to build your model
  • A community sponsor(s) that will help fund your efforts and provide other support (grants are available)
  •  The desire to learn, explore, strategize, build camaraderie, share ideas and talents, make new friends, be accepted, and HAVE FUN!

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FINDING AN EXISTING TEAM

As the South Carolina partner for the FIRST LEGO League Jr., our primary roles include scheduling and running FIRST LEGO League Jr. events in the state, along with supporting coaches for a successful season. We do not have the necessary resources for putting individuals in touch with existing teams looking for new members or for starting new teams.

FIRST does provide two services for finding a FIRST LEGO League Jr. team in your area. The first method is to head over to firstinspires.org and check out their Events and Teams in My Area search engine. You can search by FIRST programs within a specified radius from your zip code. While the results are limited, it does not provide contact information, the results do provide a stepping stone to finding out if your child’s school or organization already has a team.

FIRST also provides a service called TeamUp which is designed to connect likeminded individuals within the FIRST programs. TeamUp is a community-driven system that allows users to connect with one another to form teams. It’s a great resource for finding teams looking for members or for teams to advertise that they’re looking for new recruits. You can access TeamUp here.

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STARTING YOUR OWN TEAM

So you’re interested in starting your own team. Great! FIRST has put together the flyer, How to Start a FIRST LEGO League Jr. Team to help you out. Here are some suggestions to get you going,

  • Hold an informational meeting for your school or group in spring or very early in August – explain the program, time frame, costs, and the need for volunteer coaches!
  • Talk to parents, your PTO/PTA, your principal, your school district, or an interested teacher.  Most teams are coached by teachers and parents.
  • Recruit another co-coach. At least 2 coaches per team are required.
  • There are always interested kids, they just need a coach.  No experience is necessary to coach.

For more information head over to Start a FIRST LEGO League Jr. Team.

Remember a good coach does not need to be an engineer or a professional programmer. All it takes to be a great coach is the passion to guide these kids on a wonderful journey.

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REGISTRATION PROCESS

Registering a FIRST LEGO League Jr. team is a three step process. Below is an outline of the steps in the order that they must be completed.

STEP 1 — Register with FIRST

Teams begin their registration process by identifying a head coach and having that individual make a FIRST profile at http://www.firstinspires.org/.

Once the head coach has a profile they log into their FIRST profile. On their personal dashboard there’s an option to “Create a Team”. Click on this link and follow the instruction. At this time new teams are assigned a temporary team number while returning teams are reassigned their old numbers.

STEP 2 — Complete the Youth Protection Program Requirements

Every FIRST LEGO League Junior team is required to have two adult coaches that have completed the background screening process as part of the FIRST Youth Protection Program. The team registration process cannot be finalized until two adults have completed their background screening. Instructions and links to the screening process are found on the team profile page.

STEP 3 — Pay the Registration Fee

After two coaches have completed the Youth Protection Program requirements log back into the team profile page and you’ll be able to pay one of the registration fee options for FIRST LEGO League Junior. This fee is not paid to the South Carolina FIRST LEGO League but to FIRST. At this time new teams are assigned an official team number; their temporary team number goes away.

Teams are not considered registered until they have two screened coaches and have paid their registration fee.

 

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