FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Newton Qualifier and
Massachusetts East Championship

The LigerBots host the FLL Newton Qualifier every year at Newton North High School on the last Saturday before Thanksgiving, and often host the Massachusetts East FLL Championship at the high school in mid-December.

The next Newton Qualifier is November 18, 2023, and the Massachusetts East FLL Championship is December 16, 2023. The LigerBots will run a STEAM expo from 10:00 – 3:00 alongside the state championship, with hands-on activities for kids in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math, presented by team members and by local organizations. The public is invited to watch both tournaments and to enjoy the activities at the December STEAM expo.

More than 1000 people usually attend our two FLL events, including FLL team members, families, LigerBots volunteers, and members of the public. At the 2022 Newton Qualifier, 18 teams of students in grades 4 to 8 competed, using LEGO robots they designed, built, and programmed to perform complex tasks in the Superpowered challenge. Our STEAM expo included activities provided by the LigerBots, the Newton South Science Team, Women in STEM Club, Johnson String Instrument, and the National Guard. You can find hundreds of photos from the event on the LigerBots Flickr page.

The FIRST 2023/24 theme is the arts, which is reflected in all of its programs from K-12. The 2023 FLL game is called "Masterpiece." You can learn more about it on the FIRST website.

FLL Information Night

The LigerBots hosted its annual FIRST LEGO League (FLL) information night on June 14, 2023, from 7:00-8:30, at Newton North High School, in the Film Lecture Hall. We plan to host another one in June 0f 2024. If you would like to attend — or cannot attend but are interested — please fill out this form.

If you could not attend, the presentation can be viewed at https://ligerbots.org/docs/2023/fll_info_night_2023.pdf.

For more background on the FLL program, here is the official FLL website and FIRST’s mission statement, this year’s FLL challenge and season info, and the FLL season calendar. You can also email [email protected] for more information.

About FIRST® LEGO® League

FLL immerses students in grades pre-K to 8 in real-world scientific and technological problems, such as food safety or recycling. There are three levels of FLL based on the students’ grade: FLL Discover, FLL Explore, and FLL Challenge. FLL Discover is a playful introduction to STEM for children in grades pre-K to 1. FLL Explore, for students in grades 2 to 4, helps students explore while they learn about the design and coding of FLL robots by using powered LEGO® bricks to create solutions to problems. FLL Challenge is a competition for students in grades 4 to 8 that teaches them to build and program autonomous LEGO® robots that can compete on a 4’ x 8’ field in the annual robot game designed by the FIRST organization, performing assigned missions such as moving a ball or flipping a switch. FLL Challenge teams also research a real-world problem within guidelines provided by FIRST and design solutions that can be presented to judges at an FLL tournament.

In addition to helping to teach students about STEAM through hands-on activities, experience in FLL is good preparation for the high-school-level FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) program, whether with the LigerBots or any other FRC team. The LigerBots are committed to doing what the team can to support FLL programs, including acting as an information clearinghouse and supporting FLL coaches who are figuring out how to get an FLL team up and running.

New teams are typically formed by two to three parents interested in providing an FLL experience for their kids. Teams typically meet once or twice a week for two to three hours, and the season is approximately 10 weeks long. Parent coaches do not have to be engineers or scientists! The challenge is designed to be solved by kids. Teams can have up to 10 student members. While teams tend to come and go as children enter and then age out of the FLL program, there are a few legacy teams that occasionally have openings for new team members.

The first requirement for forming a team is to have space for a 4' x 8' game table. It costs about $1100 in materials to start an FLL team and about $500 in recurring costs each year. Startup costs include a robot controller module kit (Spike or EV3), which is about $400, a set of specialized LEGOs called Technics, that costs about another $500, and materials to build a table, which cost about $150. Recurring expenses include a $250 team registration fee that goes to FIRST, a “challenge set” sold by FIRST for about $100 that includes a game mat and LEGOs specific to that year’s challenge, and a registration fee of about $100 per competition for each level the team makes it to. The cost can be divided by the number of participants, or the team can apply for grants. Of course, if teams want to spend more money, they can, but they do not need to. Here is the FLL pricing and payment payment page on the FIRST website.

 For more information on how to start a team, you can visit the FIRST® website, or you can email the LigerBots at [email protected].