FIRST LEGO League at E-Bots
If you are interested in FIRST LEGO League, then you are in the right place, here we have provided you background information and answers to the questions that we are most commonly asked.
Please take the time to read through this before contacting us further, we would appreciate it. Thank you.
What is FIRST LEGO League?
FIRST LEGO League introduces science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to children ages 4-16* through fun, exciting hands-on learning. FIRST LEGO League participants gain real-world problem-solving experiences through a guided, global robotics program, helping today’s students and teachers build a better future together. In FIRST LEGO League, students engage in hands-on STEM experiences, building confidence, growing their knowledge and developing habits of learning. FIRST LEGO League’s three divisions inspire youth to experiment and grow their critical thinking, coding and design skills through hands-on STEM learning and robotics.
FIRST LEGO League Discover – PreK- Grade 1:
For children ages 4-6, this playful introductory STEM program ignites their natural curiosity and builds their habits of learning with hands-on activities in the classroom and at home using LEGO® Duplo bricks.
FIRST LEGO League Explore – Grades 2-4:
In Explore, teams of students ages 6-10 focus on the fundamentals of engineering as they explore real-world problems, learn to design and code and create unique solutions made with LEGO bricks and powered by a LEGO Education robot.
FIRST LEGO League Challenge – Grades 4-8:
Friendly competition is at the heart of Challenge, as teams of students ages 9-16* engage in research, problem-solving, coding and engineering – building and programming a LEGO robot that navigates the missions of a robot game. As part of Challenge, teams also participate in a research project to identify and solve a relevant real-world problem.
What FLL does E-Bots Participate in?
We have been participating in the FLL (FIRST LEGO League) Challenge for the past 15 years, coaching over 50 teams, and will continue to do so in the fall of 2023.
New to the fall of 2023, we will be enrolling in the FIRST LEGO League Explore with some of the WeeBots programs that are age appropriate; Grade 2 & 3. These “teams” will be run within the regular Fall curriculum and require no special registration other than registering for WeeBots Grade 2 or Grade 3 in the Fall of 2023.
However, please be advised that participation on an FLL Explore team (during WeeBots) is not a stepping stone to instant participation on an FLL Challenge team when in Grade 4. It is likely there will be a learning gap before students are ready for an FLL Challenge team.
None of the following categories of information is pertinent to WeeBots parents. However you are welcome to read for future reference.
What are the two types of FLL Teams that E-Bots operates?
At E-Bots we have two different types of FLL Challenge teams; our experience team and our competitive team.
Our Experience Team;
Any student that have completed Robot 3 successfully** may register and participate on an FLL Experience Team. It’s is a first come, first served registration process. All students with their requirements may participate. However, we do not take students Grade 4/5 on a FLL Challenge Team regardless of what level they have completed at E-Bots. We prioritize students in Grade 6+.
**Successful means the student has the teachers explicit permission to move to Robot 4. If a child must repeat Robot 3, they have not successfully completed Robot 3.
Students that participate on an Experience Teams will still get the full FLL experience. They will still compete at the Regional Level just like any other team. The team however is coached/instructed in a E-Bots class environment.
Students come once a week (potentially a Tuesday or Wednesday) for 4 hours (dinner is provided). We will be coaching them as they learn the FLL experience and how to play the game. They will complete all the aspects of the FLL Rubrics and meet goals in/and outside of E-Bots time.
Students can only participate on an experience team ONCE.
At the end of their season they will either be given an invitation for the competitive team for the following year or they will not be. Invitation on a competitive team is based on performance on the experience team.
Students that participate on an experience team should note that while we are still teaching and learning these students can/will do great things. Out of our 3 experience teams that competed last year, 2 of the teams won trophies at regionals and went on to compete at provincials.
Our Competitive Team;
Students that are invited to participate on our competitive teams must have;
- 1 year on our experience Team
- Completed at minimum Build 1 Class
- Completed Python 2
These teams can meet up to 2x weekly (4+ hours) and are coached/mentored without the safety net of “instructional time”.
The students we invite on to a competitive team are highly motivated and team players. They do not have to be the “smartest kid in the room” and definitely do not have to be the strongest programmer/builder.
These types of students do not have to all be leaders and “go-getters” but they do have to be passionate and devoted, as THIS is their “extra-curricular” (similar to Hockey), they desperately want to be at E-Bots and love to be with their team, learning and building together.
At E-Bots we care about the students personal journey, what they can get our of FLL and what FLL can do for them.
Changes to FIRST LEGO League for 2023/24
In the fall of 2022 we were made aware that FIRST LEGO League Canada was potentially going to be mandated to follow the American example and change the age of participation for FIRST LEGO League Challenge.
Due to differences in the Canadian school systems to the American, students in Canada could participate in FLL up to and including their Grade 10 year. Unfortunately, in what we believe is a move to force high schools to adopt the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) or the much more expensive FRC (FIRST Robotics Challenge) they made the ruling that students can no longer participate in FLL in grade 9 or 10 and an FLL Challenge journey ends after grade 8.
We waited to announce this to parents & students because there was an appeal from FIRST Canada to FIRST America to see if there could be some leniency as Europe (who does not have FTC or FRC) can compete in FLL until the end of their highschool years. However, it was not to be, and we are now mandated under the same rules as the USA.
Unfortunately this will have a greater impact on the North American level of competition as students as young as Grade 4 can and WILL compete against European students who can be as old as 18.
Registering for FIRST LEGO League
Please make sure you read the changes to FLL before this section.
Due to the ruling by FIRST America we will be prioritizing students in Grade 6+ on our experience team as students younger (4/5) will have more opportunities to be on one of our teams over time.
We will have TWO experience teams in the Fall 2023. There will also be TWO competitive teams in the Fall, students who will be on these teams have already been selected.
At the end of July/beginning of August registration will be released for the fall. If you receive our newsletter you will be notified several days before registration goes “live”. Register your student as quickly as possible on that date as it first come first served. Registration will close for FIRST LEGO League within a week after it opens so that we have time to build the teams.
You will not be told until registration is closed whether your student has a spot or not on a team. You will have to be patient, we know it will be hard. You will be advised of whether they got a spot or not by email, so please make sure you are set to receive email from E-Bots (especially yahoo and hotmail customers).
Students in Grade 6+ will be prioritized however the remaining spaces will be given to students based on a first come, first served basis, so the earliest you register your student the better your chances are.
You will NOT get to select which evening for your team meeting, or which team your student will be on. If you want to be on one of our teams then the commitment has to be there to whatever night you are offered. We also do not put friends together, so please do not ask. Students are selected on teams based on different criteria so we can balance a team for the best possible learning experience.
Schedule & Competition
Students that are selected for a team, will participate weekly in a 4 hour “session”. It will be either on Tuesday or Wednesday from 4:30 – 8:30pm. Dinner is provided; pizza and a juice box (or parents can provide their own dinners).
Their meeting sessions last for approx. 13 weeks and will end the week after their one day competition (somewhere hopefully in the GTA). Student participation at competition is mandatory, as is parent attendance.
Typically regionals are the last weekend in Nov or first 3 weekends in December and we won’t know when we are competing until mid October.
We typically compete with 2 teams each at one of 2 regional competitions so that all 4 teams are not directly competing with each other.
We like to meet with the students after their regional competition, sometimes it’s an exit party and other times it’s starting the prep for the provinicals as they may have qualified for them. Teams that advance to provincials will meet over Christmas break and possibly twice in January before provincial competition in late Jan/early Feb, date TBA. (There is an additional cost to this portion of the exprience).
The cost to participate in an EXPERIENCE TEAM at E-Bots is approximately $800 (from 2022/23) . That is not to say that it will be that price for 23/24 but it is to provide a guideline for parents.
It can be paid in two installments or all at one time. This is just the fee to prep the students for the Regional Event. Should a team qualify for provincials there are extra meetings that take place and another full day of competition. There will be an extra charge for this. Students who are unable to attend meetings over Christmas break due to vacations already booked are still obligated to the team for these extra charges if they are proceeding to Provincials.
Specific information regarding provincials will be provided as necessary.
An FLL team commitment is for the full session until regional competition, both in participation and financially. If a team is going on to Provincials and a student doesn’t wish to participate, or is unable to due to scheduling, they may remove themselves from a team at that time.
Your Student is in Grade 8 in the Fall
If your student is in Grade 8 2023/24, they only have 1 year to participate in FLL. Unfortunately they will not get the opportuntiy to be invited on to one of our Competitive FLL Teams.
However, due to the new change in FLL and the fact that we don’t put students on the VEX Robotics Team until Grade 11 (sometimes Grade 10), we needed a stop gap. A competition where students were still learning, competiting and putting their toolboxes to work.
In the Fall of 2023, we will be starting our first experience with WRO; World Robotics Olympaid with some of our “aged-out” FLL Team Members. We hope to have this be the next stage for students who are currently in Grade 8 and will be in Grade 9 in 2024/25. Students that are participating with us have to have at minimum 1 year on an FLL E-Bots Team.
Information regarding WRO and your student’s next steps after FLL won’t be available until next spring.
We wanted to make sure you knew, your kiddo isn’t at the end of their E-Bots journey.