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What is FLL?

FLL (FIRST LEGO League) is a global organization that is motivating kids to pursue careers in technology.   FLL also helps kids develop problem-solving skills, strategize, and think creatively.

FLL is a subdivision of FIRST.  FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology".  FIRST has four levels, Junior FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Robotics Competition.  Combined they range from 6-year-olds to high school ages.  Check out the FIRST website for more information.  Here is a link to a video on FIRST.

FLL teams use the robotics controllers available from LEGO to build and program autonomous robots that can complete missions on a 8 foot by 4 foot game board.  Since the robots are made out of LEGOs, they are easier to build.  The NXT (the new robotic controller that LEGO made) does not use normal LEGO bricks.  Instead, it uses Technic beams, axles, pins, and gears.  It is a good idea to practice building with Technic pieces before the season, that way you are used to the way they work and connect.

In addition to designing a robot, the team researches the challenge topic.  In the past, these have included transportation, nanotechnology, and energy efficiency.  They work to identify a problem, create a solution, and share their learnings with their community.  At the competition, they present their research to the judges in a creative manner.  Many teams present their learnings in the form of a skit.

Team registration is open from May to September.  Then, in early September, the Challenge is released and the work begins!  The teams have around 10 weeks to complete their work.  In Virginia, regional tournaments are held in November and the State Championship is held the first weekend in December.  In Virginia, the State Championship is a two day event held on Saturday and Sunday at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.