Starting out as a new FIRST LEGO League team may seem daunting, but with the available resources is not difficult. Remember, many thousands of folks have done this before!
First step: Register your team! This is done on-line at the usfirst.org website, and involves a fee of $225 per team. At this time, order the current FLL "Nature's Fury" competition kit ($75), with the competition mat, the challenge models (made of LEGOs, "assembly required"), an official FLL guide, several optical discs (assembly instructions, videos and instructional files), and coaches pins.
The coaches should set up and test access to the FLL Nature's Fury challenge forum, the official venue for clarifications and questions, where the answers are official and binding (until corrected, at least).
If neither you nor any of your team members already have one, you will need to obtain at least one LEGO Mindstorms kit (the usual NXT version or the new EV3 version) in order to construct your teams robot. This can be done at team registration as well. Additional sensors, batteries and other components may prove useful, and can be ordered separately.
When you receive the Nature's Fury challenge kit, the mission models need to be assembled (you are sure to have LEGO assembly experts on your team).
As you setup your competition set, you should consider either building a competition table (4x8' plywood with 2x4" sides for the mat and models) or an enclosure (just the 2x4" sides, setup on a smooth hard floor).
Order reference books and use the SYRA resources. Coach Training 101, Hints and Tips training, advice from experienced coaches and SYRA organizers, the Mentor Team (high school level robotics team members, most with FLL experience) working with the kids, etc - you are not alone! And remember, LET THE KIDS DO IT! No one expects rookie teams to come in first, it will be a great experience for them as long as they can learn from it and have fun.
As the challenge is released, the entire team needs to review it carefully and understand it. Brainstorming sessions will follow, to work out ideas for meeting the individual mission challenges. No ideas are unacceptable in brainstorming - out of the box is great, if it not against the challenge rules, so understand the rules.
Design and build your first base robot chassis, that can have attachments added to it to meet individual mission challenges. This is an incremental process - continuous improvement!
Weekly SYRA meeting will answer questions and impart knowledge and training. Practice competition and prize challenges provide valuable pre-tournament experience. Individual team meetings are when the robots get designed, built and tested, on whatever schedule the teams choose.
An additional facet of the Nature's Fury challenge is "the Project", which will concern disaster preparation. Research by the teams is presented and judged at the state competitions (details will follow when the challenge is released)
MA state qualifying tournaments will start in late November, culminating in the MA state championship in mid-December. Field competition is combined with robot and project judging session, as well as core values for the FIRST LEGO League. Trophies are awarded in many categories, but the most valuable thing the teams take away from the process is the experience itself!
NXT: FIRST LEGO League - the unofficial guide (Kelly & Daudelin, no starch press 2008)
NXT: Winning Design! Design Patterns for Fun and Competition (Trobaugh, Apress 2010)
NXT: Building Robots w/ LEGO MindStorms NXT (Astolfo, Ferrari & Ferrari, Syngress 2007)
NXT: LEGO MindStorms NXT-G Programming Guide (Kelly, Apress 2007)
Last modified: 12/05/14 All Rights Reserved, © 2013 by Team Unlimited [FTC 0001]