What is it ?
First Lego League or FLL is one of the competitions organized and managed by Firstinspires.org.
This STEM program focuses on the fundamentals needed for 21st century skills by inspiring kids to learn and apply core values, research and robot design. As a team, they present what they learned to judges in 3 different presentations, supported by a poster board, a sketch or prototype. There is a strong connection to a theme and to real world problems and applications. The fourth part of the competition is the robot runs visible to all spectators.
It is way more than building and programming a robot and completing missions on a 4by8 foot table!
At the competitions, each team gets a practice run and 3 scored robot runs to demonstrate their robot programming skills. There are 2 type of awards, judged awards and skills awards. The judged awards take into account overall gracious professionalism and coopertition. The skills award is based on the highest score obtained during the 3 robot runs.
What does it cost?
Is it only for competition and First Lego League? No. Lego Education offers a free curriculum. Lego is the product manufacturer of the robot kit. Lego is the vendor and is a for profit organization.
Practically you need a robot, a table and this year's game. Every year the game changes. This means the basic EV3 competition kit, the new SPIKE Prime kit, preferably a competition extension kit with extra pieces.
Registration before tax is $299.
There are additional competition fees and none of this includes transportation, hotel stays or other related expenses.
You also need a laptop. You could use an iPad but the software version for iPad does not have certain functionalities like sensors and myblocks. You could use a Chromebook, but that one also has restrictions on what you can program.
First provides you a basic spreadsheet to keep track of your cost.
Our first year cost for 1 team was $1,291.85 not including the laptop.
This did also not include any materials for the Research Project or the Core Values presentation.
We won an award at our first qualifier. Yeah! We needed to pay to go to the Regional Championship. We needed to stay overnight so we could participate in the Robot Day at Legoland and the wonderful free activities in the library. We needed costumes and pit decorations. It is tradition to swap something with the other teams, we needed a swap. Everyone wears matching shirts too!
Conclusion: it adds up quickly! Plan ahead, it is worth it.
Learn to ask for donations and sponsorships.
Here is a great picture: One of the teams in the picture is from a Title 1 school, the other team is from a private school. Can you tell the difference? I can't! That is the whole idea. All kids who show interest, and who put in the effort, time and energy should, belong on the dance floor.