FIRST LEGO® League Challenge (FLL Challenge) is a program for children ages 9-14 (up to 16 outside of the United States). Each year, FIRST releases a theme for the season and teams of up to 10 students build a robot to compete in The Game and create a research project (the innovation project) related to that theme.
The FLL Challenge season starts when the challenge is released in late August, and culminates in a competition in November/December. Depending on the region, there are various levels of advancement to reaching region championships.
Teams should check with their local FIRST Partner to learn more about when the competitions take place in their local area and the advancement structure.
|Challenge Released||Late August|
(scheduled by local FIRST Partners)
The FLL Challenge Game is played on a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood. The mat and models that make up the field kit are created by LEGO® and FIRST and based on the same theme as the innovation project. The field kit is purchased by the teams at the beginning of the season when they register. Teams build a robot to complete as many missions as possible in two minutes and 30 seconds. Not all missions have to be completed and the missions do not have to be completed in any particular order. It is up to the teams to decide which missions to complete.
As of the 2021-2022 season, the LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Set are the only legal kits that can be used to create a robot for the FLL Challenge game. Only parts manufactured by LEGO® can be used to build the competition robot. This includes rubber bands, string, or flexible tubes made by LEGO®. String and flexible tubes are the only parts that can be altered (i.e. cut). The only LEGO parts not allowed in FLL Challenge are LEGO "pull-back" motors (spring loaded motors) and LEGO pneumatic components.
Software used to program the LEGO® robotics kits can be downloaded from LEGO® Education. The LEGO® Education kits use a block-based programming language and are easy to use and understand by all age levels. Teams will need a tablet or laptop (recommended) to use the programming software. More ambitious teams can use Scratch or Python to program their robots. Both are legal for FLL Challenge competitions. Here is an additional link for how to create a line follow for robots in EV3.
The FLL Challenge Innovation Project is where a team tries to solve a real-world problem. It is based on research done on the theme given by FIRST at the beginning of the season. Teams determine a problem within the provided theme and propose a solution to the problem.
FLL Challenge competitions (i.e. tournaments) consist of a day-long event where teams participate in a judging session and run their robot in The Game (called robot performances) three times. Judges score the teams on how well they perform in each category, and advancements are determined after teams are ranked.
First time and annual costs for FLL Challenge are highlighted below. Note that the robot kits and device to program them can be found on the used market at lower prices.
First Year Costs
|LEGO® robot kit||LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime: $340|
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3: $465
|Tablet or laptop||Android tablet: $100+|
|FIRST Partner registration||varies (contact your FIRST Partner for more information)|
|FLL Mat and Field kit||$75 + shipping|
Funding a Team
How FLL Challenge teams pay for the first-time or annual costs below depends on the team. School sponsored teams could provide robots to use for the season and charge a participation fee to cover any annual costs. Teams that are independent of schools or other organizations might split the costs between the families, host fundraisers (through local restaurants or GoFundMe), or contact local companies for sponsorship. Grants through FIRST or FIRST Partners are also a good way to get money, especially for rookie teams.
The frequency, length, and location of FLL Challenge meetings depends entirely on the team’s preference. Some teams, especially those based in school buildings, meet once or twice a week for an hour or two at a time. Teams that meet in homes have more flexibility and could meet more often. More advanced teams could meet multiple times per week for multiple hours at a time. Home schoolers that form teams can make FLL part of their curriculum so they may meet as often as they like. Meeting frequency, as well as the length of those meetings, tends to increase as time gets closer and closer to the competition date.
- LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime
- LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Robot Set
- LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT Robot Set
- LEGO® Education Software Downloads
- FLL Challenge Resource Library
- FIRST Interactive Coach and Mentor Training
- FLL Tutorials
- EV3 Lessons
- Line Follow Tutorial