Start a Jr.FLL Team
Starting a Junior FIRST LEGO League Team
Anyone can start a Junior 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.
In our 2012-13 Challenge, "Super Seniors," teams tackle improving the quality of life of seniors by learning about the obstacles some people face as they get older. Teams will learn about simple machines as they build a model made of LEGO® elements with a motorized moving part, and will create a team Show-Me Poster to represent their Super Seniors findings. Registration for the season opens on August 1 and you can run the program at your own pace.
The best way to get involved is to form a new Jr.FLL team. Existing Jr.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 should also review this Important Registration Information before you sign up. 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 2-6 kids; 3-4 kids is an optimal number for many teams. Team members must be 9 or under on January 1, 2012 to participate in the 2012 Super Seniors season. FIRST suggests kids be at least 6 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 multiple Jr.FLL teams per season.
- Register the team with FIRST. Registration opens on August 1 and runs through April 30. You can start a team at any time. Once you register, you can download coach's material which will guide you through the project and offer suggestions on how to run your team.
- Select a meeting place and facilitate regular meetings. Jr.FLL teams can meet anywhere; all it takes is a place to talk, work on the "Show Me" poster, and build your LEGO model. Teams typically meet once per week for one-to-two hours for 6-10 weeks. We encourage you to try to have at least one interview or field trip to a professional in the Challenge field -- for Super Seniors that could be a senior center or community, health care provider or your within own family.
- Register for a Maryland Jr.FLL Expo...or hold your own. Maryland FIRST encourages multiple Jr.FLL Expos around the state throughout the Jr.FLL season. Check here for our Maryland schedule. You can also host your own Jr.FLL Expo with as few as 3-4 teams. You can keep the event private or open it to other Jr.FLL teams. Jr.FLL Expos are fun, non-competitive events that give teams a chance to show off their work and see the work of others. You can learn more about hosting your own event and download an Event Guide for more details.
You can start a Jr.FLL team for as little as the $50 registration fee. If you already have an extensive collection of LEGOs and poster board material, that may be all you need. For most teams, FIRST recommends a Jr.FLL Base Set for $149.95 that includes more than 2,000 LEGO pieces, a motor, battery, and additional instructional material to help get started. As your team returns for multiple seasons, FIRST recommends more advanced kits that introduce teams to basic robotics and programming, paving the way for success in the FIRST LEGO League. You also have the option of designing team t-shirts and other branding material.
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 Jr.FLL is to decide what methods work best for your team.