Starting a FIRST LEGO League Team

FIRST LEGO League is an academic competition that mixes LEGO robotics, research into real world problems, and the development of soft skills. 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 teams must comply with a minimum set of conditions.

  • Teams must have between 2 and 10 members.
  • Team members must be between the ages of 9 and 14. No team member may be outside the maximum allowed age prior to January 1 of the year the Challenge is released. (For example, a student who turns 15 in May of 2016 would be eligible to compete in the Challenge released in August of 2016, whereas a child who turned 15 in December 2015 would not.)
  • Each team member can only participate on one FIRST team.
  • Teams must be coached by at least two adult mentors, both of which must complete the FIRST Youth Protection Program screening process. Coaches can mentor multiple teams.

RoboDolphins Team Picture

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FINDING AN EXISTING TEAM

As the South Carolina partner for the FIRST LEGO League, our primary roles include scheduling and running FIRST LEGO League 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 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

How to Start a FIRST LEGO League Team flyerSo you’re interested in starting your own team. Great! FIRST has put together the flyer, How to Start an FIRST LEGO League 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 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.

 

Rookie teams should expect about a $1000 budget. This includes the $225 registration fee to FIRST, purchasing the annual Challenge set at $75, purchasing a LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robot at $439, the $50 entry fee into the qualifying tournament, and incidentals associated with the Project props and travel. This budget does not include the cost of a computer for programming the robot. For a complete breakdown of the budget head over the Pricing & Payment page at FIRST.

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REGISTRATION PROCESS

Registering a FIRST LEGO League 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 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 the registration fee of $225 to FIRST. This fee is not paid to the South Carolina FIRST LEGO League. 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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DEADLINES

In South Carolina registration for the FIRST LEGO League season closes at the end of September. For the 2016 Animal Allies season registration closed on Friday, September 30, 2016.

To be fully registered teams must have two coaches that have completed the FIRST Youth Protection Program screening process and have paid the $225 registration fee to FIRST. Teams are not required to submit a final team rosters as part of the registration process.

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