VA/DC Junior FIRST LEGO League

Junier First LEGO League

What is Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL)?

Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) is a program created in a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the LEGO Group.  Jr.FLL is a hands-on program for children ages 6 to 9 (grades K-3), designed to inspire them in science and technology.  Teams of up to 6 children and an adult coach receive a real world challenge facing today’s scientists.  Using an open-ended LEGO building set, teams design and build a model depicting an aspect of the current year’s challenge. Teams generally spend 6-8 weeks exploring, investigating, designing and building their model using LEGO elements and moving parts.  In conjunction, teams create a "Show Me" poster that depicts their season’s journey.  Jr.FLL also introduces students to life skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, self-confidence and presentation skills. 

The 2012 Jr.FLL Challenge – Super Seniors

Can FIRST® LEGO® League teams improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities? In the 2012 SENIOR SOLUTIONSSM Challenge, over 200,000 children ages 9 to16* from more than 60 countries will explore the topic of aging and how it may affect a person’s ability to maintain his or her lifestyle – solving issues like getting around, keeping in touch, or staying fit. Teams will research obstacles and then suggest ways to improve the quality of life for the seniors affected. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® robot to solve a set of missions on an obstacle course.  Throughout their experience, teams will operate under FLL’s signature set of Core Values.

*9-14 in the US, Canada, and Mexico

Super Seniors Logo

What does a Jr.FLL season look like?

As with all FIRST programs, Jr.FLL promotes the Core Values of FIRST.  The coach guides the team through their season and facilitates the discussion and problem solving along the way.  The coach helps the team with the following components of their challenge:

  • Learn about it! – Brainstorm the topic, narrow down the research topic, conduct research and understand the information.
  • Build it! – Build a LEGO model with one motorized part and one simple machine that represent’s your team’s findings.
  • Show it! – Create a Show-Me Poster to document the team’s journey and information such as the topic they chose and what they learned.
  • Share it! – Share what you learned with others – parents, teachers, team sponsors, other students, your community, other FIRST teams – anyone!  Tell the story, answer questions, sing a song, put on a play, be serious, be funny – find a way to share what the team learned.  If you attend a Jr.FLL Event/Expo reviewers will generally visit with teams for about 10 minutes. 

Season Calendar

August 1, 2012                     Registration for Super Seniors opens and kit ordering begins
August 1, 2012                     Super Senior Challenge released for registered teams
August – May                       Teams meet, generally for 6-8 weeks
November – May                  Jr.FLL Event/Expo Season
April 17, 2013                       Registration for Super Seniors ends
April 17, 2013                       World Festival Expo – St. Louis   

Starting a Team

Teams are comprised of 2-6 students, ages 6-9, and at least one adult coach.  FIRST considers the upper age limit of 9 to be “hard” and the lower limit of 6 to be “soft”.  If, after taking in the child’s developmental level, you feel they are capable of participating on a team and interacting with older children, then by all means they’re allowed!   As a warning, we have found that children younger than 6 can be overwhelmed by the experience.  For students ages 9 to 14, FIRST offers the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) program.

Other people such as parents, grandparents, older siblings, teachers, community members and even older FIRST team members are encouraged to mentor and/or volunteer with the team.  Coaching a team requires no previous knowledge or technical background, only a willingness to learn with the students.   The coach facilitates discussions and encourages problem solving.  As a team you will have access to the Coaches' Guide and other resource materials.  The Coaches Guide contains sample schedules for the season as well as team building activities to help get started. 

Teams may be made up of school groups, after school programs, home school organizations, community groups, neighborhood groups, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, families, etc.

Jr.FLL teams generally meet for 6-8 weeks.  Each session should last about one to two hours and teams generally meet once or sometimes twice a week.  Team meetings can be held anywhere.  Popular locations are at a school, the coach’s home or a neighborhood or community facility. 

Joining a Team

Students generally do not “join” a team; rather teams are formed around the child. If your child is interested in the program, a good place to start looking for other team members are your child’s friends. Ask other parents in the neighborhood about interest or approach a teacher or the principal at your child’s school with the idea – any adult can start a team. 

Although FIRST does not create teams or match students, FIRST does have TeamUp, a matching system for parents, coaches and mentors to connect with others to form teams.

VA/DC FLL also offers a Jr.FLL mailing list that can help locate others in your area interested in starting a team or for established teams that may have space for additional team members.  To join the VA/DC Jr.FLL mailing list or listserv, go to https://listserv.jmu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=VADCJRFLL-L

The VA/DC Jr.FLL mailing list

The VA/DC Jr.FLL mailing list/listserv allows people with an interest in Jr.FLL to keep in touch, find others interested in forming teams, share ideas, and more. This list also provides a way for coaches and mentors to discuss and distribute Jr.FLL questions and suggestions. Finally, administrative program announcements will be distributed to members of this list. Both Virginia/DC-specific and general Jr.FLL topics are covered, so everyone is welcome. To join the VA/DC Jr.FLL mailing list/listserv go to https://listserv.jmu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=VADCJRFLL-L

Registering a Team

To register a team go to http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/jr.fll/registration  The registration fee is $50.00 per team and includes: 

  • Challenge Guidelines- Model and Show-Me Poster instructions.
  • Jr.FLL Coaches' Guide - Best practices for coaches.
  • Access to Jr.FLL Forums 
  • Reduced Pricing on LEGO kits
  • Jr.FLL Team Support – Jr.FLL Program support for registered teams through FIRST.

As a registered team you have access to reduced pricing on LEGO kits, although teams may use their own LEGOS.  For product and pricing information go to http://www.usfirst.org/sites/default/files/uploadedFiles/Robotics_Programs/JrFLL/ 2012%20Super%20Seniors%20Product%20Assortment%20%26%20Pricing.pdf

Registration for Super Seniors is open from August 1, 2012 to April 17, 2013.

This $50.00 registration fee does not include any team extras such Show-Me Poster supplies, t-shirts and any Jr.FLL Expos or events.  The cost for events are paid directly to event organizers.   

Jr.FLL Kit Options

You are not required to purchase a specific kit to participate – the team can build their model using any LEGO bricks and elements, but teams are encouraged to purchase the Jr.FLL base kit ($182.95 plus shipping and taxes – Jr.FLL team savings of $44.69).  This base kit is designed for teams that are just getting started and need essential LEGO®  Education materials for building their models.   With this configuration, teams are provided an abundance of LEGO components including cams, axles, wheels, gears, beams, and more. The included motor and battery box enable teams to add movement and bring their model to life. Rounding out this year’s offering are the BuildToExpress for Education mini-kits and the new Jr. FLL Guide to Building and More.  This new guide written specifically for Jr.FLL will lead coaches through the process of organizing the LEGO components; building two separate models using gears, the motor and the battery box; and using the BuildToExpress activities for team building skills.

There is also a Jr.FLL Robotics Kit that is perfect for returning teams who are eager to add robotics as a component to their Jr.FLL model.  The LEGO®  Education WeDo system was designed specifically to bring the fun and challenge of robotics to students ages 7 to 11. Team members will build LEGO models featuring working motors and sensors; program their models with colorful, visual software designed just for kids; and explore a series of cross-curricular, theme based activities while developing their skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as language and literacy. The electronic activity pack explores four different themes, allowing team members to become familiar with the product before constructing their Jr.FLL model. This kit is a great transition to the skills needed for FIRST LEGO League.  This kit is $175.95 plus shipping and taxes – Jr.FLL savings of $43.95.  

Finally there is a new offering, the Jr.FLL Robotics Set with a WeDo Resource Set, to take your Jr.FLL model to the next level.  The LEGO®  Education WeDo system was designed specifically to bring the fun and challenge of robotics to students ages 7 to 11. The addition of the WeDo Resource Set helps to extend the possibilities for the creative problem-solving needed in Jr.FLL.  Complete with 325 additional elements that combine with the Construction Set, this pack allows for building models that are more robust and intelligent too! Building instructions and programming examples for four new models that utilize the resource set are available online, allowing team members to become familiar with the product before constructing their Jr.FLL model.   This kit also provides a smooth transition to the skills needed in FIRST LEGO League.

For more information on the Super Seniors Challenge Kit Options go to http://www.usfirst.org/sites/default/files/uploadedFiles/Robotics_Programs/JrFLL/ 2012%20Super%20Seniors%20Product%20Assortment%20%26%20Pricing.pdf

Jr.FLL Events/Expos

Jr.FLL Events/Expos provide teams an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and share what they have learned during their season with others.  FIRST, nor LEGO, does not conduct or oversee local Jr.FLL events, but encourages and provides resources for local teams, parents, coaches or community volunteers to host such events. 

Teams are encouraged to hold local events to share their accomplishments and projects with family and friends.  Anyone is able to hold an event, and tips, suggestions, and “how-to” are offered in an Event Guide.  Events may be small, such as a team inviting family and friends to share what they learned, or they may be large events with numerous teams held in a public venue.  No matter what the size, Jr.FLL events always recognize the contributions of all team members and provide a place for positive sharing, learning, laughing and celebrating a task well done.  For more information and resources on hosting events as well as access to the Event Guide, go to http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/jr.fll/events

Will there be any Jr.FLL events in Virginia/DC?

There will be Jr.FLL Events/Expos held in Virginia and DC for the 2012 Super Senior season.  These events may be hosted by Jr.FLL teams, may be held in conjunction with other FIRST events such as FLL, FTC or FRC Tournaments, may be hosted by community volunteers, etc. 

If you are considering hosting an event, please refer to the Jr.FLL Event page which provides many great resources such as the Event Guide, sample awards, templates for certificates, a link to ordering awards, etc. http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/jr.fll/events
Anyone wishing to host a Jr.FLL event may do so and we encourage you to invite other teams to participate by sending an email to the VA/DC Jr.FLL email list/listserv.   You can also post your event on the FIRST website under Virginia or DC events Jr.FLL events.  To post your event go to https://my.usfirst.org/myevents/index.lasso

What if I have other questions?

The FIRST website has extensive information on Jr.FLL at http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/jr.fll

If you have questions about the challenge or other general questions, send an email to jrfllteams@usfirst.org

If you have questions about the Jr.FLL program in Virginia/DC, please send an email to questions@vadcfll.org or to Sally Sylvester, FIRST Senior Mentor Virginia, at ssylvester@usfirst.org.  You can also post questions to the VA/DC Jr.FLL email list.