Coaches – Read this first
Thank you for volunteering your time and talent to coach. With your guidance, the children on your team are going to inspire you, and those around you, in surprising ways. If you have no technical background, don’t be nervous. Let your team do the work. You only need to ask the questions and watch them…GO!
If you’re a new coach, we know this can seem overwhelming. But don’t worry. One of the amazing things about participating in FLL is that you’re now a part of our community. Your team is one of over 15,000 teams in over 50 countries! If you need some advice, feel free to contact the Operational Partner in your area to get connected to a veteran coach. (More on Operational Partners later.)
FLL is more of a celebration than a “competition”. Coaches help other coaches. Teams help other teams. We want everyone who participates – team member, coach, or event volunteer – to have a fulfilling experience. That’s the reason we built FLL upon a set of Core Values.
What do I do FIRST?
You need to recruit at least two team members, although we recommend at least three for a true team experience, who are between ages 9 and 16 the 1st of January of the year they want to participate. Go here to register your team. Keep in mind that children can only be on one team, but a coach is allowed to coach multiple teams. You will need a meeting space that has room to set up the 1.2mx2.5m playing field, and a computer with internet access.
What do I do after I register my team?
You will receive a registration packet that includes the Coaches’ Handbook for the Body Forward Challenge. Read this Handbook carefully. If you have not already done so, go back to the registration system and purchase one Field Setup Kit and, if your team does not already have one, order one MINDSTORMS® Robot Set. If you have multiple teams, they can share one Field Setup Kit or they can each have their own. It’s up to you!
While you’re in the system, make sure we have your correct email address so you receive any important info/updates from us. Email blasts are the main way in which we’ll communicate with you.
The Field Setup Kit is the playing field for the Robot Game. Depending on when you register, you could receive your kit as early as July. As soon as you receive it, you can begin putting it together with your team, which is a great “team building” exercise, but you won’t know what the actual game is until the Challenge is released on September 3rd. To even the playing field, so to speak, all teams are granted access to the Challenge at the same time. Some Operational Partners host events to celebrate the release of the Challenge in their regions. Contact your Operational Partner for more information.
- If your Field Setup Kit is missing any pieces, please refer to page 115 of the Coaches’ Handbook.
- Having trouble finding the instructions to build the Field Setup Kit? They’re contained on the CD that comes with it!
You also won’t find out what the Project is until the Challenge is released in September. But what do you know? You know what the theme for the upcoming Challenge is! You can begin researching that theme with your team, so they are ready to program their Robot and design their Project once the Challenge is released.
- Show us how you’re preparing for the Challenge on our YouTube Channel.
- Follow us on Twitter to get behind-the-scenes info as we develop our next Challenge.
LOCAL EVENT AND OFFICIAL TOURNAMENTS
If your team chooses to participate in a local event or official tournament, you’ll only have until that event to complete both parts of the Challenge (Robot Game and Project). They’ll feel a time crunch just like in the real world! Events are great opportunities for teams to interact with and learn from each other, whether it’s the first year they’ve participated or the third.
Local events follow their own structure. At officially-sanctioned FLL tournaments, teams are judged on their Project Presentation, Core Values, and Robot Design, which is the strategy they used in programming their Robot. Teams will also compete in three rounds of the Robot Game, plus one practice round. Only their best score that day counts! Teams have the opportunity to win awards in each of these categories, but the FLL Core Values remain the focus. “What we discover is more important than what we win.”
TIP: If you are attending an official tournament, make sure you have a signed parental consent form for each member of your team and a completed team intro form.
What do I do once the Challenge is released in September?
Your team needs to carefully read all the documents that pertain to the Robot Game and Project. They are only available on our website! To get a sense of what these look like, you can see past Challenge documents here. You will need to download one document which explains the Project, plus some optional resources, but the Robot Game has a few components:
- Game Rulings
The Missions and Rules are what your team needs to begin strategizing how to play the Robot Game. The Game Rulings are updated continually throughout the season to clarify questions we’ve received from other teams. It is important that you keep up with these rulings as they could affect how your team programs their robot.
TIP: Make one member of your team responsible for checking the Game Rulings and have him/her check the page at the beginning of every meeting.
What can I do with my team before the Challenge is released?
- Create a team identity – name, logo, team shirts, mascot
- Fundraise or apply for grants – to pay for team shirts, any tournament fees, registration fee, etc.
- Learn how to use the MINDSTORMS Robot Set and software
- Put together the Field Setup Kit
- Begin researching the Challenge theme
- Learn the FLL Core Values
- Host a Jr.FLL event or mentor a Jr.FLL Team
- Learn about the FTC and FRC programs for high school students.
- Help promote FLL and the FIRST mission,
- HAVE FUN! (Well, you can have fun AFTER the Challenge is released too.)
How do I explain what I’m doing to others?
Here’s some things that are unique about FLL: Anyone can coach. We really mean it! There’s no technical background needed.
Yearly Challenges are based on “real world” scientific topics like Nanotechnology, energy, transportation, and accessibility. Teams are actually tackling the same issues as today’s scientists and engineers!
Sure, children develop technical skills as a result of participating in FLL. But they also develop those important life and employment skills that will benefit them no matter which career path they choose. Brandeis University studies have shown that children who participate in FLL learn critical thinking, time management, collaboration, and how to communicate effectively, all while becoming more self confident.
Many children become interested in a career path related to one of the Challenge themes, in addition to sparking their interest in becoming the next generation of scientists and engineers. Teams also raise funds (Development), create a team name and identity (Marketing), and promote their activities (Advertising).
Teams can choose to participate in official tournaments, which are organized by our amazing volunteer network of Operational Partners around the globe, or in local events, which are organized by their community. These events are celebrations of their accomplishments, both technically and personally.
Team activities are guided by a set of Core Values, including: We do the work to find the solutions with guidance from our Coaches and Mentors.
Operational Partners are amazing people who VOLUNTEER to run the FLL program in a specific region. Please contact the Operational Partner in your area with any questions pertaining to official Tournaments and to be connected to a veteran coach. And please thank your Operational Partner for all they do!
Thank you, again, for coaching an FLL team. At the end of the season, we will send you a survey to gather feedback on your experience. We truly listen to what you have to say!
Team members can be from 4 to 10 members per team and teams need to have a coach that will supervise them. Team members need to be from 9 to 16 years of age the 1st of January the year the teams want to participate.
Teams need to obtain there own robotics set (+-R3000) and programming software license (+-R900). Where to buy: See the Robotics stores on the website. This robot will be used every year for all challenges.
Teams need to pay R1200 per year to participate (Per team). This includes the FLL Challenge set for the year R1000 (that they keep after the competition) and R200 Competition fee. Payment details will be mailed as soon as the team has registered online.
What to do
- 25 August 2013 Team Registration Closes
- 31 August 2013 FLL Launch @ TUT
- 12 October 2013 Eastern Cape Tournament (NMMU PE)
- 19 October 2013 Mpumalanga Tournament (TUT Nelspruit)
- 19 October 2013 Northern Free State Tournament (Sasolburg)
- 26 October 2013 Gauteng North Tournament (UNISA Pretoria)
- 2 November 2013 Western Cape Tournament (Cape Town)
- 9 November 2013 KwaZulu Natal Tournament (Durban)
- 16 November 2013 Gauteng South Tournament (Sci-Bono Jhb)
- 22 November 2013 Zimbabwe Tournamnet (Harare)
- 7 December 2013 South African Nationals (Sci-Bono Jhb)
- ldraw.org – Open standard for LEGO CAD programs that allow the user to create virtual LEGO models and scenes.
- brickplayer.com – Private, independent website featuring LEGO sculptures, mosaics, news, reviews, and building tips & tricks.
- brickjournal.com – BrickJournal is a magazine that spotlights the many aspects of the LEGO Community.
- brickshelf.com – Cool LEGO building stuff.
- peeron.com – More cool LEGO stuff, including a list of parts numbers and names; color chart, sets, building instructions
- classic-castle.com – For LEGO castle aficionados
- bricklink.com – Premium venue for individuals and businesses from all around the world to buy and sell new, used and vintage LEGO
- brothers-brick.com – The Brothers Brick is a LEGO blog for adult fans of LEGO
- lugnet.com – International LEGO Users Group Network, a global community of LEGO enthusiasts.
- The Art of LEGO Design by Fred Martin- A slightly outdated, but still very useful guide to building with LEGO.
- NEW! NXT Programming for Beginners – courtesy of Neil Rosenberg, Excellent resource for all levels of NXT users.
- NEW! nxtprograms.com – Step-by-step instructions to build & program robots to do various simple tasks
- NXT Programming Tutorial – Downloadable, excellent introductory and advanced programming tutorials for NXT. Provides step-by-step guidance and explanations of the skills needed to create simple and more advanced NXT-G robot code.
- NXT Programming Tutorial (IN SPANISH)
- NXTLOG – from LEGO.com, Share and archive your LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT projects.
- GEAR-Tech-21- Comprehensive curriculum includes six to nine activity modules introducing robot design, building and programming for the LEGO NXT
- Carnegie Mellon Curriculum – Comprehensive FIRST LEGO League robotics and engineering curriculum. From the Robotics Academy of The National Robotics Engineering Center and Carnegie Mellon, there are two items available here. First, a free robotics curriculum,a project involving many teachers, university faculty, engineers, and others. The outline covers almost everything you could want, but as it is an incomplete version a few documents are missing here and there. Available in English or Spanish, this school robotics curriculum is in depth coverage of the concepts involved in building and programming a robot. Next, based on this original material, a completed curriculum is available for purchase on CD. Also from Carnegie Mellon – Introductory training materials for LEGO MINDSTORMS robot and TETRIX
- NASA Educational Robotics Matrix This is a list of robotics and engineering educational materials, collected by NASA. Not all of the materials here apply to FIRST LEGO League.
- Tufts Center for Engineering Educational Outreach Curriculum – Encyclopedia of LEGO part names and uses, building and programming hints, and physics concepts. Also, about 40 classroom activities and curriculum ideas using LEGO elements and ROBOLAB to help teach subjects, from science and engineering to reading and art, are available for download. Another database of activities is below under LEGO Invent & Investigate Database.
- Trifolioum Gears Lesson – A lesson plan about gear types and uses using LEGO gears to illustrate. Introduction to gears lesson.
- How Stuff Works – Explanations of how things work. It is not a curricula, and not specific to FIRST LEGO League, but has very good explanations of general engineering concepts. For example, How Gears Work, How Gear Ratios Work, and How Differentials Work.
Coaches training workshop UNISA 2012
What to bring
What to bring to a Tournament:
- Robot and attachments
- Parts kit
- Print out of programs and robot specification page
- Materials, props, and equipment needed for Project presentation
- Laptop computer with batteries and/or AC adaptor, extra batteries, extension cords
- Team scrapbook
- Team banner, posters, or other decorations for pit space
- Snacks and drinks
- Storage box for personal items
- USB cable or IR tower
- Programming garage
- Team introduction page
- Fun, inexpensive gifts to share with other teams (pins, hats, personalized, team playing cards)