FLL Challenge:Innovation Project

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Each season, FIRST releases a theme for the FLL challenge. The theme can cover a broad range of STEM topics, so the challenge description provides guidance on what teams should be focusing on for their Innovation Project. Teams do research on the given topic, determine a problem that exists within it, and propose a solution to the problem. At Innovation Project judging, teams present the problem they want to solve and describe their solution. Teams are evaluated on the quality and completeness of their research.

How to Pick a Project Subject

To pick an FLL Innovation Project, it is easiest to start by looking at some possible project sparks that are listed in the Engineering Notebook. You can also find inspiration from the robot game board missions or come up with your own idea that fits within the rubric for the season. Once you have a few topics that seem interesting, you can start doing a little research on all of the ideas you have thought of. After you have done the research, it can help you decide which topic your team is more inclined towards.


It can be tricky to find good information related to your project from good sources, so here are some tips to get you started.

  • Keep track of your research on a document.
  • Make sure you are using a credible source.
  • Research sub-topics about your main idea.
  • Use varied sources.
  • Speak with experts.


Teams are judged on the following criteria (taken from the FIRST Innovation Project Rubrics)[1]:

  • IDENTIFY - Team had a clearly defined problem that was well researched.
  • DESIGN - Team generated innovative ideas independently before selecting and planning which one to develop.
  • CREATE - Team developed an original idea or built on an existing one with a prototype model/drawing to represent their solution.
  • ITERATE - Team shared their ideas, collected feedback, and included improvements in their solution.
  • COMMUNICATE - Team shared a creative and effective presentation of their current solution and its impact on their users.

Possible Judge Questions

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • How did you come up with your problem?
  • What existing solutions are out there?
  • How much does your solution cost?
  • How many sources did you use for your research?
  • Did you get feedback on your solution?
  • What feedback did you get from the experts you interviewed?
  • Who have you shared your solution with?
  • How have your coaches helped your team?


  • To pick a project, it is easiest to start by looking at some possible project sparks that are listed in the Engineering Notebook and to research ideas within those topics. You can also find inspiration from the robot game board missions.
  • Read the guidance provided in the challenge description carefully. Teams sometimes miss the mark on the Innovation Project because they solved a problem that wasn’t within the guidelines given.
  • Make sure the problem statement is obvious and explicit in the presentation. Not all teams clearly communicate the problem so the judges don’t always understand what the solution is supposed to be solving.
  • Have fun with the presentation. Don’t just read facts and figures. Create a skit or do something creative. For example, there have been teams that created a rap.
  • Research the cost of the solution. This is an element teams often miss.
  • Include quantitative data in the research and presentation. It helps judges understand the problem or solution and how effective it is.
  • Do a mock judging session to prepare you and your team for the event.
  • Speak to experts before and after coming up with a solution.

Additional Resources


  1. "FLL Challenge Rubrics" (pdf). firstinspires.org. Retrieved 1 July 2021.