FLL:Comparing Programs

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FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) uses LEGO® bricks to teach the fundamentals of competitive robotics: coding, hardware, and teamwork. It is a progressive program designed for preschool-8th grade students. It is not required that students work through all the levels in the program. Instead, they are encouraged to join (or rejoin) at any age or level of skill. The program will quickly bring them up to speed with their peers by teaching them the skills they need. FLL truly welcomes anyone at any level of skill, from beginner to the very advanced.

There are three levels of FIRST LEGO® League (FLL):

All three levels of FLL share the same season theme, but the challenge is different for each. These three levels have different age requirements and focus on teaching different skills in a step-by-step format. When deciding which level is right for your child, there is no one size fits all. For example, an advanced kindergartener might be just as capable of learning to code as a less advanced 3rd grader. So it is important to understand the differences between the levels in order to get the best fit for your child.

Programs Compared

There are many similarities between the FIRST LEGO® League levels. Every level of FIRST LEGO® League uses the same annual theme. These themes are based on real-world issues, and recent seasons have focused on topics related to space, animals, or architecture. Another commonality is that all levels require annual registration with FIRST to receive the season’s meeting guides and LEGO® kits. Finally, every level requires additional equipment to be purchased in the rookie year. This equipment can be reused in subsequent years.

FLL Discover FLL Explore FLL Challenge
Grade Level PreK-1st (age 4-6) 1st-4th (age 6-10) 4th-8th grade (age 9-14)*
Team Size 8 or more students 2-6 students 2-10 students
Season Length Sept-April

10 meetings


12 meetings


4 months (varies by team)

Competition Type No Public Exhibition Public Exhibition Competitive Tournament
Registration Costs[1]

(annual purchase)

$175 per team** $99 per team** $225 per team**

$75 game field set**

Equipment Costs[1]

(one-time purchase)

$171 (STEAM Park set) $215 (WeDo 2.0 set) $425 (Spike set)
Equipment Requirements
  • Discover Set (received with registration)
  • Team STEM Set
  • Explore Set (received with registration)
  • LEGO® WeDo 2.0 set
  • Extra LEGO® bricks
  • Game Field Set
  • LEGO® Spike set or EV3
  • Expansion set
  • Extra LEGO® bricks
Learning Focus
  • Teamwork, Problem Solving & Communication skills
  • Mechanical Design
  • Teamw ork, Problem Solving, & Communication skills
  • Beginning coding
  • Mechanical Design
  • Public Speaking
  • Teamwork, Problem Solving, & Communication Skills
  • Coding skills
  • Mechanical Design
  • Public Speaking
  • Competitive Robotics

*The age range for USA teams is 9-14. The age range for international teams is 9-16.
**Prices current for 2021/22 season[1]

FIRST LEGO® League Discover (PreK- Grade 1)

For children ages 4-6, this playful introductory STEM program ignites their natural curiosity and builds their habits of learning with hands-on activities in the classroom and at home using LEGO® Duplo bricks.[2]


  • Originally conceived as a classroom program, FLL Discover will also be offered in a smaller team format beginning in the 2021/22 season.
  • The season is 10 meetings long and can begin any time Aug-July.
  • Students explore science themes using LEGO® Duplo bricks. Individually and as teams, students are given challenges to perform using Duplo bricks.
  • By the end of the season, students will also work as a team to design and build a team Duplo model related to the season’s theme.
  • There is no coding component to FLL Discover. Instead, students focus on learning beginning teamwork skills and practicing logic and sequencing methods (both are pre-coding skills).
  • FLL Discover is best for younger students, or those with little to no LEGO® experience.

FIRST LEGO® League Explore (Grades 2-4)

In Explore, teams of students ages 6-10 focus on the fundamentals of engineering as they explore real-world problems, learn to design and code and create unique solutions made with LEGO® bricks and powered by LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0.[2]


  • Although FIRST recommends this level for grades 2-4, it can be easily modified to be used by students as young as kindergarten.
  • The season is 12 meetings long and can start any time Sept-April.
  • During the season, students will learn about science topics by performing LEGO® challenges both individually and as a team. Students also learn coding, teamwork, and communication skills.
  • By the end of the season, the team is expected to design and build a LEGO® model based on the season’s theme along with a poster describing their season’s journey.
  • The programming software is block-based and done through a proprietary LEGO® app. It does not require previous coding experience, or the ability to read.
  • The season ends in a non-competitive exhibition where the team will present their finished model to a reviewer.
  • FLL Explore is best for students who are ready to begin coding. Previous experience building with LEGO® is helpful, but not necessary. If students cannot yet read, the curriculum will need slight modifications to remain effective.

FIRST LEGO® League Challenge (Grades 4-8)

Friendly competition is at the heart of Challenge, as teams of students ages 9-16* engage in research, problem-solving, coding, and engineering – building and programming a LEGO® robot that navigates the missions of a robot game. As part of the Challenge, teams also participate in a research project to identify and solve a relevant real-world problem.[2]


  • Although FIRST recommends this level for grades 4-8, it can be used with students as young as 3rd grade. The upper age limit is non-negotiable. Teams from the United States have an upper age limit of 14. International teams have an upper age limit of 16.
  • FLL Challenge is a competitive robotics program. Teams will be expected to compete at a local competition during the tournament season. Tournaments are run by FIRST Partners.
  • The worldwide season kickoff is mid-late August. Tournaments are held Nov-Dec. Teams who advance beyond the local tournaments may expect their season extended into the spring (varies by location).
  • During the season, teams are expected to design, build, and code a robot to perform tasks on the playing field. Additionally, teams will complete a research project related to the theme of the season. Throughout the season team members work on teamwork and communication skills.
  • Many types of coding software can be used in FLL Challenge. Teams can choose to use a block-based code, Scratch, or simplified Java programming language based on their experience level.
  • At tournaments, teams will be judged 25% on their robot scores, 25% on their robot design and coding, 25% on their project, and 25% on teamwork.
  • FLL Challenge is best for students who are ready for competitive robotics. Previous coding experience is not required, but students should be able to take direction from coaches and be able to contribute in a group setting. Previous experience building with LEGO® is extremely helpful but not required.

Additional Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "FLL Cost and Registration". firstinspires.org. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "About FLL". firstinspires.org. Retrieved 1 July 2021.