Run a Team
Experience the FIRST LEGO League Challenge!
FIRST LEGO League teams are part of a rich culture comprised of young innovators, guided by coaches and mentors, who tackle real-world challenges with ingenuity, integrity, and a sense of fun. Resources are available to get your team rolling towards an amazing FIRST LEGO League experience. Click on a topic below to learn more!
Learn About FLL Challenge
Forges the connection between classroom lessons and real-world application.
Experience STEM fields as future areas of study and career choices.
Work side-by-side with mentors from a variety of backgrounds: education, industry, government.
Get hands-on programming and rapid prototyping experience
Apply the engineering process and learn to find the opportunity in failure.
Gain access to over $80 million in FIRST dedicated college scholarships.
Rise to the top in consideration for college admissions, internships, apprenticeships.
About FIRST LEGO League
What FIRST LEGO League Challenge is all about?
Introduces students (9 to 14 years old) to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FIRST LEGO League teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society. The theme changes each year, but the FLL Core Values that teams learn do not. The team’s season culminates in a competition where they celebrate and share the work they have done together with other teams.
What sets FLL apart from other programs?
The FIRST Core Values. Team members learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and they gain valuable teamwork skills.
Programming autonomous robots. Team members learn solid thinking and programming skills as they carefully plan missions.
In the "Project", team members are encouraged to think about real-world problems and engage. They also learn invaluable public speaking and other soft skills.
The FIRST Progression and $81 million in scholarships. Students can participate in FIRST in K-12 and graduates can apply for college scholarships just for FIRST students.
FIRST and FIRST in Tennessee
There are two entities that work together to grow and support FLL teams.
FIRST HQ provides:
Annual Team registration;
FLL storefront to purchase robot kit and Challenge set;
Yearly Challenge design and materials.
FIRST in Tennessee, a distributed matrix organization, provides:
Access to FLL programs in Tennessee through multiple FIRST regions that include:
Tennessee Chattanooga (North Georgia);
Tennessee specific information and grants;
Local Events and Competitions;
Find an Existing Team or Start Your Own
Finding an existing team
FIRST in Tennessee does not place students on teams, and FIRST privacy policies forbid us from sharing coach contact information. Our role is to assist new teams in forming by connecting them to local resources to help them be successful and sustainable. Many teams in Tennessee are organized through schools and home school co-ops, so contact your child’s school to find out if a team exists and how to join. Some 4-H clubs, scout groups, and youth organizations also have teams. If a team is full, or if there is no team existing, we would be happy to assist you in starting a new team. Grants may be available to pay for your robot kit and registration fee!
You can search the national list of teams and events at the FIRST site.
Use the Team Finder and enter your zip code in filter at left.
Register a Team
Create or access your account
Team registration and administration is done through the FIRST account of the individual(s) holding a key role for the team beginning in early May each year. It is accessed via the FIRST website http://www.firstinspires.org/ using the 'Sign Up' or 'Log In' links in the top menu bar.
'Sign Up' for a FIRST Account – This is a “one time” activity for a new user.
'Log In' to an existing FIRST Account – If the user already has a FIRST account, team registration and administration is done by clicking on the “Log In” link.
Register your team at the FIRST site
Teams register for each season at the FIRST website, under the Teams tab. You do not need to know your team members to start registering a team!
Rookie Teams – Choose Create New Team(s). You will receive a temporary team number to identify your team on rookie grant applications until your registration fee is paid. When the fee is paid (either by a you or a grant), you will be assigned a permanent team number to use at events and on future grant applications.
Veteran Teams – Choose your team name from the previous year. Remember that a team’s number and kit of LEGO parts is reusable and retained from year to year. Veteran teams register for the season using their team’s previously assigned team number.
Pay for registration and materials
Rookie teams should purchase the annual Team Registration with included Challenge Set and a MINDSTORMS EV3 robot set. Veteran teams should only purchase a Team Registration with included Challenge Set.
Organize Your Team
Team member age
FLL in Tennessee is limited to students who are 9 to 14 years old on January 1st of the challenge season.
Team member registration
Each team member must be registered before attending an event. Allow ample time for parents to complete this process by starting several weeks before your event. You can find detailed directions for student registration in the ‘Team Paperwork’ section of the Resources page.
The maximum number of students on a FIRST LEGO League team is 10, and this is strictly enforced. The minimum team size is two students, though this is not conducive to learning teamwork skills. Teams typically have 5-8 members. The small-team concept works well with the platform and encourages a closely knit team where all are engaged. Multiple teams per school/organization are welcomed and grants are available to start additional teams!
Registering student team members
Parents create an account and then register their children with the team. This includes signing Consent and Release forms online. Once this is completed, the coach accepts the team members and creates a Team Roster which is printed to turn in when checking in at events. If parents are unable to complete the process electronically, there are paper forms available online to print and sign. See Team Paperwork on the Resources page for more details. This process should be completed several weeks ahead of the event, once the team member list is known.
Coaches and Mentors
Number of coaches
Every team is required to have two registered adult coaches who have completed the FIRST Youth Protection screening process. Any adult can be a coach – teacher, parent, industry professional, college student.
Mentors provide assistance to teams, at one or more meetings, in their particular area of expertise. They provide valuable one-on-one interaction and serve as a resource in their specialty. Mentors with skills in these areas are helpful, but not mandatory: engineering, programming, build, communications, administration. High school FRC students can also serve as mentors to FLL teams.
Coaching a FIRST LEGO League team requires no technical background or experience! Students do all the work (that’s the rule!) so coaches should not worry if they are not experienced with the robot or the yearly challenge topic. Coaches can seek out mentors or older robotics students to guide students in their robot building and programming. Coaches can also learn more about the robot from the Robot Resources at the Resources page. FIRST also has curriculum and other resources available to new coaches; see Coach Resources at the Resources page.
The role of parents
Parents not serving as a coach or mentor can still be very helpful to a team. Some example of tasks parents can complete include: ordering t-shirts, buying supplies, building the robot table, providing snacks at meetings, organizing transportation to events, coordinating lunch at events, finding sponsors, assisting at meetings, and volunteering at events.
Meeting Place and Times
Team meeting place
Teams can meet anywhere that is appropriate and safe such as a school, homes of team members, meeting hall, or a sponsor provided location. Things to look for in a meeting site: work space large enough for the team members and a 4’x8′ game field, internet access (if possible), a secure place to store equipment between meetings. It is also nice to have table space and chairs for team meetings. Many teams meet in a classroom, the media center, or a school library or science lab, but teams also meet in cafeterias, gyms, school hallways, public libraries, YMCAs, churches and homes.
Team meeting times
Most teams spend about eight weeks preparing for a tournament. It is important to set a regular schedule and procedure for team meetings. Many new teams start by meeting twice a week for two hours, then adjust their schedule as needed. Check the FLL Events page for when qualifiers are scheduled near you. Some Tennessee qualifying tournaments begin in early November, so teams should plan to start meeting as early as possible to maximize their meeting time. Teams can also be successful with a shorter season if they meet more often. Teams have even completed their rookie season with just a few weeks before competition!
2019 Tennessee FLL Schedule
Early May- FIRST LEGO League team registration opens for the new season.
August 1- Challenge is released.
August thru-early November- Teams meet, build, research, and program.
October- Register for a qualifying event.
December 14, 2019- TN Chattanooga (North Georgia) Championship
January 25, 2020- Tennessee West Championship
February 8, 2020- Tennessee East Championship
April 15-18, 2020- World Festival in Houston
Gather Your Materials
Materials to purchase the first year
A LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 to build your robot. Your robot set can be purchased during team registration in one step. If your school already has a robot set, you are not required to purchase a new one.
At least one laptop (strongly recommended) or tablet to program your robot. Install free MINDSTORMS software from LEGO Education.
Wooden field table (recommended) or 4’x8′ clear floor or tables space to place Challenge mat. You can find plans to build the field table on the Resources page.
Materials needed each year
Challenge Set consisting of an exclusive selection of LEGO bricks, dual lock fasteners, and a roll-out field mat. One yearly themed set per team is available for purchase during registration. Multiple teams at a single school can share a Challenge Set if they do not meet at the same time.
Project presentation materials such as poster board and paper.
T-shirts, hats, and/or other “team swag”. Most teams have a unique team identity which includes dressing alike.
Cart or box to store robot and robot attachments.
Challenge Guide and Challenge Guide updates, Mission Model Building Instructions (see ‘Season-Specific Resources’
Grants and Funding
Available grants for rookies and existing teams
Tennessee Valley Authority
Team grants that cover the FIRST registration fee for the City Shaper season are available now for teams within the TVA service area. Click on this link to learn how to apply.
Tennessee Valley Robotics
Team grants that cover the FLL robotics kit are available based on available funding. To learn more, contact Charley Spencer firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other sources of team funding
Teams are encouraged to take responsibility for their budget in order to sustain the team:
Reach out to area businesses – especially those related to technology – for sponsorship.
Have the parents of team members check with their employers as many companies offer grant funds for youth STEM programs where employees are actively involved.
Charge a per student fee to cover team expenses.
Hold team fundraisers.
Connect with organizations such as your school, parent organization, scout group, or area professional organizations who may be able to assist with funding.
Seek STEM grants from local or national organizations.
Hold Team Meetings
Roles of coaches/mentors and students
In FLL, the rule is “All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team.” All parts of the project and robot building and programming must be completed by the students, with guidance from their coaches and mentors.
Resources for planning team meetings
FIRST has developed free curriculum which is available to all coaches through Schoology: FIRST STEPS FLL Curriculum. It can be used as a stand-alone course or as a supplement to areas where the team needs extra support. In addition, starting with the 2019 CITY SHAPER season, teams will receive a two Team Meeting Guides for coaches and ten (10) Engineering Notebooks for team members included with their registration. These resources can be followed to guide team meeting time.
The Core Values
You can find a description of the FIRST Core Values – Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork, and Fun – at the FIRST site. The Core Values were revised for the 2018 season, so you may find conflicting lists (there were 10 Core Values previously) in outside resources. Make sure your team is using the new list linked here.
Practicing the Core Values
Unlike the Robot Game and Innovation Project, which have tangible products to prepare for tournaments, the Core Values guide HOW you complete your work as a team. Many teams choose to discuss and practice their Core Values skills during their meetings as well. You can find sample Core Values activities, similar to those used during the Core Values judging session at tournaments, under Core Values Resources on the Resources page. Core Values work is also integrated into the FIRST STEPS FLL curriculum and the Team Meeting Guide/Engineering Notebook available to teams.
Core Values Poster
The Core Values poster is one way for teams to track and display what they have learned about the FIRST Core Values during their season. The poster is not required at qualifying tournaments in Michigan, though many teams choose to complete one. It is required at the state championships. Directions for the poster are included in the yearly Challenge Guide (coming August 1.)
The Innovation Project
Also sometimes referred to as the Research Project or just the Project, this portion of the yearly challenge puts the theme into real-world context for teams. There are three parts which must be completed by teams: identify a problem, design a solution, and share with others. Each team shares their Innovation Project with judges in a five minute presentation or skit at their tournament.
Completing the Innovation Project
There are many resources and guidance included in the Challenge Guide each year to assist teams in their research and innovation. You can also find links to videos from FIRST about completing the project and some sample project presentations under Innovation Project Resources on the Resources page.
This portion of the yearly challenge includes building and programming a robot made entirely of LEGO parts to complete one or more of the themed missions on the robot table. While most teams will use a MINDSTORMS EV3, teams can also use the older NXT or RCX brick. The robot is used in two ways at tournaments. Teams will run their robot in three 2-1/2 minute matches. Teams will also participate in Robot Design judging, where they will describe the process they used to design, build, and program their robot to judges.
Learning to Build and Program the Robot
There are many resources available to teams to help build their robot. There is an annotated list of resources available, both from LEGO Education and FIRST and from other sources, under ‘Robot Resources’ on the Resources page of this site. The robot build is also integrated into the FIRST STEPS FLL curriculum and the Team Meeting Guide/Engineering Notebook sent to teams.
Building the Challenge Set
The first step to building the robot is actually building the LEGO mission models in the Challenge Set. It is helpful to complete this before the team begins meeting or very early in the meetings. Many teams build the models as a group on a Saturday or evening, or even during the summer before school starts.
The Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES)
A robot game table is no longer in the Robot Design judging room during FLL tournaments. Instead, teams describe to judges the process they used to design, build, and program their robot using the Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES). For a rookie team, this may simply be each student presenting a few facts about their robot. For more experienced competitive teams, the RDES format allows students to practice presenting their engineering process to judges. While the Robot Game tests the scoring capabilities of the finished robot, the Robot Design judging discovers what the student team members learned about the engineering process, strategy, building, and programming during the season. More information about the RDES is contained in the Challenge Guide each year. Teams are not required to have an engineering notebook or any other written materials as part of their RDES, though it is helpful to print out your program to show judges.
Tennessee FLL Events
Types of events
The state of Tennessee is subdivided into three partner regions: Tennessee- East, Tennessee- West, and Tennessee-Chattanooga (North Georgia). A county map of the state showing the three regions can be found on the Tennessee FLL Events page. Each Tennessee FIRST LEGO League team will be able to participate in one Qualifying Tournament. A portion of teams from each tournament will advance to one of three regional Championships, which will select teams to advance to the World Festival in Houston, TX. Teams advance based on a combination of their Core Values, Innovation Project, Robot Design, and Robot Game. Each team receiving a grant must participate in at least one FIRST in Tennessee official event.
Scrimmages: Non-official events; smaller scale; variable format. Teams can play in as many as they want. Scrimmages are run by teams or other groups.
Qualifiers: Official events that advance a set number of teams to a Tennessee FIRST LEGO League Championship. These events are run by tournament directors under the direction of FIRST in Tennessee regional partners.
Tennessee FIRST LEGO League Championships: Official events that advance a set number of teams to the FIRST World Festival held in Houston, TX.
Event locations and dates
Tennessee FLL events are posted on the Tennessee FLL Events site page and the FIRST website in September. If there is not an event listed in your area, or you would like to add an additional event, please contact Mike Wehrenberg for information on hosting an event.
For FIRST in Tennessee, event fees can be found on each FLL event page. Teams should explore the event links on Tennessee FLL Events page for details about event costs, team capacity, and pre-tournament information.
Tennessee Event Registration
For FIRST LEGO League in Tennessee, registration is done at the local level, and not with FIRST. Each event page provides a link to the pre-event information and registration form. The link to the registration form will only be shown when registration is open. It will not show if the event is full, or if registration is closed. After registering for an event, teams will receive their confirmed event placement by email and see their team listed in the event team roster, and not on their FIRST Team Dashboard. Information on event registration is emailed to all registered teams starting in September, and registration occurs in October.
A typical event begins early in the morning with team registration and then opening ceremonies. During the morning, teams participate in three judging sessions and may run robot matches as well. After a lunch break, teams continue robot matches while the judges deliberate. Everyone meets back together late in the afternoon for the closing ceremonies, where all teams are recognized for their accomplishments and trophy winners are announced.
Each team will participate in three judging sessions: Core Values, Innovative Project, and Robot Design. Judging sessions may run one after another or be spread out throughout the morning depending on the structure of the event.
Depending on the event, each team gets three or four robot matches at a tournament, and only the highest score counts for the competition. Teams can run the same missions each time, or try something different. Only one robot is allowed at the table, and no other electronic devices; as all robot actions must be autonomous. Robot matches are an exciting time for teams, usually with music and an announcer and cheering fans, as well as official referees scoring the matches. While the whole team goes to the field, each team has two team mates at a time act as technicians and actually run the robot at the table. You can find full rules for the Robot Game in the season Challenge Guide (available August 1.)
Robot Design Session: Teams should bring their robot and any written information they would like to share with judges to their robot design judging session. Engineering notebooks, while useful during team meetings, are not required for FLL judging. Judges will have little time to look at them if they are provided, so teams should focus on telling the judges what they want them to know instead of relying on written materials. However, it is recommended that teams print out their robot code to show the judges.
Innovative Project Session: Teams should bring materials, props, posters, etc. to their project judging session. Most venues do not have available projection equipment or electrical outlets, and the time required to set up equipment is part of the team’s allotted judging time. Teams should choose live presentations rather than videos or slideshows.
Core Value Session: There are no required materials for qualifier event core values judging sessions, though teams may bring an optional core values board if they would like. The core values board is required for the state championship events.
Coaches in Judging Sessions
Most events allow coaches or other adults in the judging rooms with limits, and this depends on space availability. If allowed, coaches must sit in the rear of the room out of the team’s line of sight and not interact with the team during the judging session, nor interact with the judges before, during, or after the session.
Awards and Advancement
FIRST LEGO League Awards
Synopsis of FIRST LEGO League Awards. Optional awards are at the discretion of the event host.
Advancement to Regional Championships and the FIRST World Festival
Based on overall results of robot performance and three judging sessions, teams may be eligible for advancement from their qualifying event. Each qualifying event has a designated number of advancement spots to a Tennessee FIRST LEGO League Regional Championship. From regional championships, teams can earn one of the designated advancement spots to the FIRST World Festival in Houston or to one of the Invitational Open Championships.