FIRST LEGO League
FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) is a youth science and technology competition within the FIRST Robotics organization. It's open to 4-8th graders, though Downingtown Area Robotics FLL works primarily with 4th and 5th graders. (As students graduate, they can progress into Downingtown Area Robotics' VEX Robotics Competition club in middle school and FIRST Robotics Competition team in high school.)
FLL is international competition in which teams of young students design, build and program fully autonomous (not remote-controlled) LEGO Mindstorms robots. Robots compete in missions related to an annual real-world issue, around which the students also make a research project presentation.
Each year the Challenge focuses on a different real-world topic related to the sciences. Each mission in the year's Robot Game revolves around that theme. Students have to design, build and program LEGO Mindstorms robots to complete these missions. The students work out solutions to the various problems they are given and then meet for regional tournaments to share their knowledge, compare ideas, and compete and cooperate with their robots (some Missions are cooperative). Additionally, the yearly Challenge includes a research Project that encourages students to learn more about the real-world issue.
This year, the Challenge is Senior Solutions (video), in which teams endeavor to aim to improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities. The Robot Game is symbolic and involves moving LEGO pieces that represent activities like gardening, quilting, exercising, shopping and taking medicine in specific ways. The Project real-life; students talk to a local senior to better understand a problem they face and then develop and present an innovative solution to it.
Mission, Vision & Values
The FIRST Vision is:
- To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.
The FIRST LEGO League Values are:
- We are a team.
- We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
- We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
- We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
- What we discover is more important than what we win.
- We share our experiences with others.
- We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
- We have FUN!
Reach & Impact
FIRST is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit founded in 1989 and headquartered in Manchester, NH. It's led by Dean Kamen (National Academy of Engineering inventor), Dr. Woodie Flowers (emeritus MIT professor), Paul Allaire (retired CEO of Xerox), Walter Havenstein (retired CEO of SAIC) and Jon Dudas (former Director of the US Patent Office), among other reputed STEM professionals. It reaches over 306,000 students with 120,000 adult volunteers every year in dozens of countries around the world, and it provides $15 million in college scholarships. The LEGO League in particular includes 20,500 teams and almost 1,000 official events per year in over 60 countries.
A large majority of students report that they actively engage in a wide range of FLL activities in a supportive environment, which raised their confidence in themselves and their future and also increased their interest in and appreciation of school, science & technology, and professional (public speaking, teamwork, etc) skills. Adult teams leaders and parents also agree on these positive impacts (2009 Brandeis University Evaluation of FLL).