Starting a Team?
Step 1: Form your team
Each team should have up to 10 team members from ages 9 to 14 with two coaches, a meeting space that has room to set up the 4×8 playing field, and a computer (preferably a laptop), with internet access.
*DISCLIAMER* Team members must not exceed the maximum age on January 1 of the year the Challenge is released. For example, in the United States a student who turns 15 in May of 2015 would be eligible to compete in the Challenge released in August of 2015, whereas a child who turned 15 in December 2014 would not. Keep in mind that children can only be on one (1) team, but a coach is allowed to coach multiple teams.
Step 2: Learn about what this year’s FLL Challenge is all about
You do not need to wait until the release of the FLL Challenge in August to start knowing what to expect. A good place to start is by learning about the three parts of The Challenge which consist of the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values .
In the Robot Game, the kids build and program an autonomous (no remote control) LEGO MINDSTORMS® robot to score points by performing mission tasks. These missions will be inspired by the Challenge theme. The robots are required to complete as many missions as possible in a 2 ½ minute time frame by navigating, capturing, and delivering objects on a printed mat (the Field).
Through the Project, teams learn more about the science behind the Challenge theme. In addition, they use their creativity to design a solution (or modify an existing solution) to solve a real-world problem.
Step 3: Know the costs
Before you begin the team registration process, it is imperative you know about the initial costs associated with the formation of a new team.
Yearly Registration Fee ($225)
Field set-up kit – FSK’s ($75) – this is the practice field for your robot and it includes an exclusive selection of LEGO bricks, dual lock fasteners, and a roll-out field mat. Teams are required to purchase one every year they compete.
LEGO® MINDSTORMS set to build your robot ($500) This is a one time purchase for your team, although most teams purchase new kits every few years as pieces go missing or when a new Lego introduces a new robot kit (approx every 5 years).
FLL practice Table (~$80) Your team will want to have their own FLL Competition Table for practice. Info about how to construct the practice table and supplies needed can be found here.
Computer (~$500) Your team will need a computer to program the robot, preferably a laptop so it is easy to bring with you to competitions. Keep in mind you will need to install the software to program the robot, so if you are using a laptop provided by a school district or company, make sure you can install programs.
Step 4: Register your team and order your materials
Register you team on the Team Information Management System (TIMS). A step by step guide on how to do this can be found HERE. Once completed and each coaches’ background checks have been cleared, parents can “officially” begin signing up their children into the team through the Student Team Information Member System (STIMS). Help files on using STIMS are available for COACHES and PARENTS.
Coaches will also need to purchase your Field set-up kit through the team registration portal. In addition, a link to the Lego education website will be sent to you by FIRST for you to begin ordering your LEGO® MINDSTORMS set.
Your supplies for the FLL practice table will also be ordered through a vendor of your choice as well.
Step 5: Begin working on the Challenge
Work with your team to find the right balance as far as meeting times and focus points. Like most teams, you could spend about 8 weeks preparing for a tournament with your teams meeting twice a week for 1 to 2 hours, or you can adjust your meeting schedule if you need more or less time. Some teams work on both the Robot Game and the Project for part of each meeting. Others devote one meeting per week to each part of the Challenge. It’s all up to you and what your team is comfortable with.
*REMEMBER* you will need to have both your robot and your Project ready before you attend a qualifier or championship.
STEP 6: Attend Scrimmage(s)/Qualifier
West TN FLL is growing and we want to make sure ALL teams get a chance to compete. Depending on how many teams register for the “Trash Trek” season, we will have a number of events before the Championship. They will be either scrimmages or qualifiers:
A scrimmage is when you can practice part or all of this year’s challenge. Some qualifiers will be – robot missions only, while others might have the opportunity to practice the project presentation (and obtain feedback), robot and core values. You are NOT required to go to a scrimmage, but you are encouraged to attend these events.
A qualifier is a competition that is a preliminary event to the Championship. If we have more teams than we can handle at the Championship event (> 50 Teams), we will host qualifiers of 12-20 teams where you will compete to earn the right to advance to the Championship. Each team will be required to register and compete in a qualifier and earn the right to advance before attending the Championship.
*Once we are into Tournament registrations, we will determine weather preliminary events will be scrimmages or qualifiers. This will occur sometime in October.*
Step 7: Attend the West TN Championship and celebrate your season!
Q. I have a question, who do I contact?
A. If the question is related to registration (TIMS or STIMS) etc please email email@example.com. You can also direct other general FLL questions to the same email address. If the question is related to this years game, I would suggest posting it on the FLL Forums. Questions about local events, please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A lot of great information is also available on the Coaches and Team Resources Webpage.
Q. Are their grants available for rookie teams to help offset the startup costs.
A. Sadly, currently West TN FLL does offer grants to help start new teams, at this time. We are currently seeking funding sources so we might be able to offer them in the future.