FLL Challenge® teams explore the Challenge theme each year through the Project. FLL is not just about building and competing with robots. Any successful engineering project requires a wide variety of skills. For example, the NASA engineers who designed the Curiosity Mars rover learned about Mars before they started designing. They researched the atmosphere, gravity, and terrain on Mars in order to design a space craft that could deliver the rover safely. They learned from past Mars rovers and improved on those designs to creat something even better. The Project is your team’s opportunity to see what it’s like to be scientists, inventors, and engineers.
The Project description will give your team some information about the topic to get them thinking and describe the essential steps each team must take. Your team will choose a problem and research it, design their own innovative solution to the problem, and share their experience with others. At a tournament, your team will have 5 minutes to summarize all of their work in a presentation for the judges.
Many teams choose a problem that is very personal. It might be a problem that affects someone on the team or someone they know. It is important to let your team members guide the choice, because choosing something they really care about will help the children see how big scientific concepts connect to their own lives.
The complete FLL Challenge (including the Project) will be released in the fall. At that time, your team should:
Download the Challenge from the website of FIRST LEGO League Challenge & Season Info. The Challenge document contains both the Project and the Robot Game. The Project description will explain the details of this year’s Project and the steps your team will need to complete. Coaches and team members should read the Project together. It is not a lesson plan. Team members should have access to read and interpret the Project document with your help.
Check the Project Updates - Here FLL staff will clarify common Project questions. Assign a student on your team to check the Project Updates regularly. You do not want to wait until the tournament to find out about any misunderstandings or corrections to the Project description. Find the Project Updates on the website of FIRST LEGO League Challenge & Season Info.
Download the Topic Guide fromthe website of FIRST LEGO League Challenge & Season Info - The Topic Guide contains resources to help your team with this season’s Project: web links and books, a glossary of theme-related words, and tips on contacting professionals. Your team is not required to use the Topic Guide, but many teams find it helpful when they start their research.
The Project instructions are purposely a little vague. This is to allow teams to choose a problem and solution that really interest them. However, all teams must follow these basic steps as well as any season-specific requirements described in the Challenge.
Identify a Real-World Problem Identifying a problem is an important step in your team’s process because it will shape your team’s research and solution. FLL provides guidance in the Project description on how to begin this process, so refer to the Project to keep your team on the right track.
Research the Challenge topic using a variety of sources (such as books, magazines, websites, reports, and other resources).
Learn about or talk to at least 1 professional working in the field of this year’s Challenge. The professional may be a scientist or engineer, or they might be someone
working in a local business, university, or nonprofit who uses the Challenge topic in their work. For example, a grocery store manager could be a great resource for a season on food safety because he or she works to keep the food in the store safe every day. Your professional does not need to be an engineer.
Discuss and analyze the problem(s) your team finds.
Review existing solutions to the problem(s). This will help your team understand what is currently being done to solve the problem(s) they found so they can improve upon a solution that already exists or create their own brand new solution.
Decide on 1 real-world problem that your team will try to solve.
Create an Innovative Solution The next step is to design an innovative solution that will address the problem your team chose. For the FLL Challenge Project, an innovative solution is an idea that adds value to society by improving something that already exists, using something that exists in a new way, or inventing something totally new. There are probably many ways to solve the problem your team chose. There may be disagreements between team members about the best solution. It might be a good idea to agree on a decision-making process ahead of time so that the disagreements do not lead to arguments or hurt feelings. Once your team members choose a solution, they should also consider what would be required to implement it. Is the idea feasible? What technology, materials, or manufacturing processes would be needed to make their idea a reality? This might be a good time to involve the professional your team identified in step 1. They should not tell your team how to solve the problem, but your team could ask for advice on how to implement the solution they design.
Share Your Research and Solution This step is critical to completing the Project and is not just about practicing your tournament presentation. It is a chance for your team’s Project to make a difference. It is an opportunity to share the excitement of science and technology with others. It may even be an opportunity to motivate others to work on solving your team’s real-world problem. Sharing your team’s solution could involve presenting at a town meeting; talking with a government official; speaking in a school assembly or in front of a class; or creating a storybook or video to send to the library or public access channel. There are many different ways the team can choose to share their research and solution. We encourage teams to share their Project with an audience or multiple audiences who can benefit from the solution. Brainstorm with your team about who might benefit. It might be someone who is affected by the problem your team identified, scientists or engineers working in the field, or a member of the government who could help pass a law to solve the problem.
Prepare a Tournament Presentation
Decide How to Share With the Judges If your team plans to attend an event or tournament, be sure team members prepare a presentation which shares their Project in a creative and thoughtful way. We have seen Projects presented as songs, skits, radio broadcasts, TV interviews, poems, stories, dances, and plays. Judges are always interested in unique presentations, but a presentation without substance will not receive high marks. Each team must find its own way to show creativity and demonstrate its knowledge.
What talents can your team members contribute to the presentation? Does someone play an instrument? Draw? Sing? Dance?
What format will allow your team to show you have met all of the Project requirements?
Many teams also prepare a brochure or other material to leave with the judges. These materials do not need to be fancy. Keep any handouts to 1 page or less. The judges will see many teams during a tournament. They do not have time to read a whole binder full of materials, and they may not have a process to return materials to your team. This is a great opportunity for your team to present its Project in a short, easily readable format. (Your team may even choose to hand out extra copies to other teams during the event.)
Present at a Tournament When team members enter the Project judging area at a tournament, they should introduce themselves and ask if the judges are ready for them. Each team has only 5 minutes to present—including setup. Exceeding the time limit is a common mistake. Some judges will interrupt your team and stop the presentation at 5 minutes while others may shorten the question time afterward to compensate. Judges at a tournament will only consider what your team tells them, so make sure your team shows or describes how they met the requirements below. Anything they want the judges to know should be included in your team’s presentation. After your team’s presentation, the judges may ask questions of your team as a whole or may direct questions to individual team members. Your team should be prepared for either format. To be eligible for Project awards your team must:
Meet any season-specific requirements outlined in the Project document.
Identify the problem your team chose to research.
Describe your team’s innovative solution.
Describe how your team shared its findings with others.
Meet the format requirements:
Present live; teams may use media equipment (if available) but only to enhance the live presentation.
Include all team members; each team member must participate during the judging session in some way.
Setup and presentation must be completed in 5 minutes or less with no adult help.
Notice that among other criteria the rubrics encourage teams to:
Clearly explain both the problem and your team’s solution.
Use different types of research resources, including professionals in the field.
Consider existing theoriesand solutions as they develop their own.
Think about real-world implementation factors.
Target their sharing toward those who might benefit from the team’s work.
Find a way to present their work that is both effective and creative.
Audio-Visual Equipment If your team needs special equipment, such as a projector, call the tournament organizers ahead of time to see if it will be available. If you need to bring your own equipment, make sure there will be a power source available in the judging room. If your team decides to use audio-visual equipment, be sure the team members are prepared to present without it if it fails or is not available. This applies no matter what technology the team was planning to use. The entire presentation is only 5 minutes long, including setup time, so they need to be prepared to proceed quickly without the failed or missing equipment. The judges almost always have a very tight schedule, so no extra time is given for equipment problems.
As part of their project, your team will probably design something that will amaze adults. Do not feel like that great idea is dead at the end of the FLL season. We encourage you to consider the following options for your team’s idea:
Continue to share your team’s project with additional audiences you might not have had time to present to before your tournament.
Talk to your local lawmakers about laws that might help to solve the problem you identified.
Share your team’s ideas at academic conferences or gatherings.
Apply for a patent on your team’s invention. (You may need to begin this process before attending a tournament. Check the laws in your region or work with a patent attorney if your team would like to apply for a patent.)