Start an FLL Team
Anyone can start a FIRST LEGO League team. Teams may be made up of neighborhood groups, school groups, home school organizations, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, family members, and after school programs.
The best way to get involved is to form a new FLL team. Existing FLL teams rarely seek or accept new team members from outside simply because they often find eager new members within their own organizations. Please note: FIRST and their representatives do not create the teams, or place children onto teams.
Your best starting point is the FIRST website's page on Starting a Team. You may also want to review material on preparing for a season, including the Coach's Manual excerpts and teleconference for new coaches. For many teams, this has all the information they need. Here are some suggestions to get going:
Steps to Form a Team
- Identify one or more adults (18 or older) as coaches/mentors. An adult can coach multiple teams. Coaches don't need robot or technical experience, but do need to be good organizers and facilitators to keep the team on track.
- Recruit 3-10 kids; 4-6 kids is an optimal number for many teams. Team members must be 14 or under on January 1, 2012 to participate in the 2012 Senior Solutions season. FLL suggests kids be at least 9 years old, but there's no restriction -- a younger child can join a team if you think he or she has the ability and attention span to stay involved. An individual child can be on only one FLL team per season.
- Register the team with FIRST LEGO League. Registration opens in May and runs through September, but it's best to register before mid-September to ensure you get the game pieces in a timely manner.
- Select a meeting place and facilitate regular meetings. FLL teams can meet anywhere; the game mat is 8' x 4' and it's easiest to place it on a plywood table. Teams typically meet one or two times per week for up to two hours from September - November, often more frequently as they approach a tournament. The team works not only on designing and programming the robot, but also researching the Project and preparing a 5-minute presentation for the tournament.
- Register for a Maryland FLL Qualifying tournament. Maryland FLL holds multiple Qualifiers around the state in December and January so all teams can attend. Registration opens by early November. Top teams at each Qualifier earn the right to compete at the 64-team Maryland FLL Championship in late January.
A general estimate of costs for a new team is $800-1000 (including the reusable robot kit), and $400-500 for returning teams. The variable is the cost of extras such as team buttons, shirts, travel, etc. The FLL Registration Information page has detailed information on registration and product costs. When you register a team, you can order a Field Setup Kit which includes the Challenge Mat and Mission Models Set; these typically ship in August-September.
Ideas for covering the costs vary from team to team. Some teams are funded by their school or organization, some find community or business sponsors, some charge for each kid to join, others do local fund-raisers, and some do all of the above. Part of the challenge of FLL is to decide what methods work best for your team.
Registered teams can purchase the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education NXT Base Set (Part #979792) for $395 which includes an NXT robot kit, software and additional parts and sensors. If you already have the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT consumer kit (Part #8527), you can purchase the NXT Education Software (W900080) and Education Resource Set (W979648) through LEGO Education. You will need access to a PC or Mac to run the software.