FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Newton Qualifier and Eastern MA State Championship

The LigerBots will be hosting the Newton Qualifier, a FIRST LEGO League robotics competition for elementary and middle schoolers at Newton North High School on Saturday, November 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m and the Eastern MA State Championship on Saturday, December 16. The public is invited to come and watch. Thirty teams of Massachusetts students in grades 4-8 will compete using LEGO robots they designed, built, and programmed to perform complex tasks.

More than three hundred students, family members, coaches, judges and members of the public are expected. Also open to public view will be displays of student solutions to real-world problems related to the water-based theme for this year’s game, which is called “Hydro Dynamics.” Information on the game can be found here and a video is here.

Alongside the competition there will be a maker fair with hands-on activities for kids in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. An article about a past competition and maker fair from the Newton Tab can be found here. This year's event will also feature “RoboPalooza,” an exhibit of some top local FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge robots. There will be opportunities for the public to watch, touch, and drive these robots! Bring your kids and spend the day! Free and open to the public.

Typically in spring, the LigerBots host a FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) information night at Newton North High School (457 Walnut Street), most recently on May 30, 2017. This event included a talk for parents as well as the opportunity to construct and program FLL robots for children. Here is the presentation from the 2017 information night. Email [email protected] if you would like more information about FLL in Newton.

After an FLL team registers with FIRST, Colleen Shaver, MA FLL Director and Director of the Robotics Events Group at WPI, will contact coaches about MA FLL in August or September. In October she will email coaches to ask them to select their top 3 choices for a tournament qualifier. All teams from MA are eligible for a qualifier. Colleen will assign teams to a tournament. Some teams will move on to one of the two state tournaments based on their performance at qualifying competitions.

About FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL)

FLL immerses teams of up to 10 students, ages 9 – 14 (grades 4 – 8), in real-world scientific and technological problems such as food safety or recycling. Teams research and design solutions to a scientific question or problem and build autonomous LEGO robots that compete in performing assigned missions. Experience in FIRST® LEGO® League prepares students well for high-school-level robotics with the LigerBots. FLL Jr. is a LEGO project-based program for kids ages 6 – 9 (grades K – 3).

The FLL competition consists of a robot game and a team project. The robot game is played on a 4'x8' field and has LEGO challenges (like moving a ball or flipping a switch). The project is to identify a real world problem (within the guidelines provided by FIRST), propose a solution, and present it to the judges.

The LigerBots do not currently directly run elementary or middle school programs, but we are committed to doing what we can to support such programs. To start with, we are setting ourselves up as an information clearinghouse. We will also support coaches with figuring out how to get going.

  • Teams come and go, but a few legacy teams have openings. New teams are typically formed by 2 – 3 parents interested in providing this experience for their kids. Teams can have up to 10 members.
  • You do not have to be an engineer or scientist to coach a team! The challenge is designed to be solved by 9 – 14 year-old kids. There are many resources available on the web, and other coaches (and the LigerBots!) will also help.
  • The main requirement for forming a team is to have space for a 4'x8' game table. Teams typically meet 1 – 2 times per week for 2 – 3 hours, and the season is approximately 10 weeks long. The cost is $500 – $1,000 for the entire team (you can either divide the cost by the number of participants or apply for grants). Of course, if you want to spend more money, you can, but do not need to.

For more information on how to start a team, you can visit the FIRST® website here and if you already know that you would like to partake in FLL, please fill out the survey here.