FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an annual thematic challenge for teams of students aged 8-16 years that has grown globally covering 50+ countries comprising 14,600 teams in 2009.
The New Zealand FLL Operational Partner technology business entrepreneur Jason Kyle embarked on a mission last year to bring the event to our shores achieving a very successful inaugural tournament attracting 23 teams. This year sees expansion into Auckland and Christchurch regional tournaments followed by a national championship ultimately selecting 1 team to represent New Zealand at the highly coveted FIRST World Festival.
The partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and The LEGO Group has created a powerful program that helps young people discover the fun in science and technology while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and inventor of the Segway, and Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, owner of The LEGO Group, share the vision of a world where science and technology are celebrated. In New Zealand, The Kiwi FIRST Robotics Charitable Trust administers FLL following program standards issued by FIRST ensuring top quality events for all participants and volunteers.
Each year's FLL challenge is released on 3 September comprising robot game and challenge project definitions. Teams then have 8 weeks to build LEGO Mindstorms robots that autonomously perform a variety of points scoring tasks on a 2.4m x 1.2m printed game mat dotted with various LEGO models built from the 1000+ piece exclusive challenge set. In parallel teams must also work on the challenge project identifying a relevant problem, create an innovative solution and share this within their community.
To level the playing field teams are only allowed to use a restricted number of motors and sensors and must program using specified graphical languages. On the other hand there are no limits placed on how teams research, present or share their challenge projects. Around the world every team has exactly the same challenge set and rules making FLL the biggest global robotics competition for school students.
This year's challenge theme is Biomedical Engineering and in 2011 we'll focus on Food and Water Safety. A highly skilled Challenge Advisory Team is assembled by FIRST each year to translate the topic into a robot game concept and challenge project.
* Now: Team registration open. Closes September 30 or earlier if tournaments are full.
* July 5: FLL demonstration at Incredible Science Day, University of Auckland.
* July 31: Team coach training. ACG Strathallan College, Auckland.
* September 3: Global challenge release date
* October 23: Judge and Referee training. ACG Strathallan College, Auckland.
* October 30: Christchurch qualifying tournament.
* November 6 and 7: Auckland qualifying tournament.
* December 11: National championship tournament.