Robotics resources

Getting started with FLL Jr (Copenhaver workshop materials)

(Looking for FLL?  Scroll down!)

What you need:

  • 2-6 kids (1st-4th grade), 2 coaches
  • A WeDo 2.0 robot set (or original WeDo 1.0) per team.
  • A way to program the WeDo 2.0. A tablet with Bluetooth (Android or iOS) works, as does a computer with Bluetooth.

Costs (per team per year):

  • Registration: $100 (national) + $50 (VA/DC state – for an Expo). 
    • Class packs or School packs can be a good value if you’re running lots of teams and will host your own Expo/Showcase.
  • T-shirts/hats if wanted (varies)
  • Office supplies, etc: $10-50

Start-up costs (per team, once)

  • WeDo 2.0: $190 (buy through FIRST or through LEGO Education)
  • Two rechargeable AA batteries ($5) and a good charger (~$30). Buy pre-charged rechargeable 2000mAh batteries and you probably won’t need to recharge all season.  Or buy the battery pack and charging cord ($90).
  • Extra Legos (variable, OK to go without).
  • 15’x15’ baseplate ($15 each) or two to help keep models together. (Optional)
  • Tablet or computer. I’m a big fan of 8” Kindle Fire tablets (~$60 on Amazon Warehouse), but if you have iPads or something already, great!

Season:

  • Challenge released August 1 (register in May-July if possible)
  • You choose the schedule! Many teams meet weekly.
  • Expos throughout the year, mostly in Spring.

Curriculum for FLL Jr:

  • Full curriculum – includes a coach’s handbook and student workbooks for twelve 1-1.5 hour meetings, ships to registered teams in early August.
  • The workbooks are a bit light on content. Many sessions could be improved by adding a book or video to the session (FIRST usually provides some recommendations) or by assigning some research as homework.  You have the flexibility to adapt the material as best suits your team(s).
  • Standards alignment: https://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/flljr/standard-alignment-map

Other WeDo curricula and lessons (not specifically for FLL Jr):

How to fund it:

Other advice:

  • FLL Jr is non-competitive. Follow the curriculum and the guidelines as much as suits you, but if your team wants to deviate from the guidelines, no big deal.  If they’re excited about learning something, run with it!  [This is very different from FIRST LEGO League.]
  • Expos are non-competitive. Reviewers (like judges, but not judging) will visit each team and ask questions.  Awesome reviewers (and they’re almost always awesome) will ask the kids about their learning and have a positive conversation about whatever the team has done, regardless of whether it perfectly follows the guidelines.
  • Large teams can’t all work on the same thing at once. Plan together the work together, then split up into pairs/threes to build/program/research/brainstorm/write/draw/assemble posters/etc. 
  • Have fun!

Where to get help:

Getting started with FLL (Copenhaver workshop materials) (June 2019 workshops)

What you need:

  • 2-10 kids ~9 years old to 14 (not yet 15 on January 1 2019 for 2019 season), 2 coaches
  • A robot kit! EV3 (or NXT) or a Spike Prime (released in August – adopt at own risk!) per team. (Two is better if teams are large, but don’t let having only one robot stop you!)
  • A way to program the robot. EV3: windows/mac laptop is ideal, tablets/Chromebooks OK for rookie teams. Older laptops are totally OK for EV3!   Bluetooth is nice.  Spike: Laptop or tablet. 
  • FLL table (4’x8’) with walls

Costs (per team per year):

  • Registration: $330 (national – includes mission models and mat) + $150 (VA/DC state – includes qualifier tournament).
    • NOTE: Season passes don’t allow teams to go to a tournament. Not a good option for many schools.
  • $200 for state championship (if team qualifies), plus hotel & travel (JMU, Sat AM-Sun PM)
  • T-shirts/hats if wanted
  • Project supplies, office supplies, etc: $50-200.  (Highly variable)

Start-up costs (per team, once)

  • FLL table ($100+) – multiple teams can share
  • Robot ($400ish, less if used)
    • Buy the EV3 education version or Spike directly from LEGO Education or through FIRST.
    • SPIKE users will probably want the expansion set.
    • EV3 users may want the EV3 expansion set, or may want to add another color sensor. It’s OK to skip these if budget is tight.
    • The “home” EV3 set (31313) is OK to use, but lacks the battery pack, gyro sensor (popular with advanced teams), and ultrasonic sensor found in the Education version. The home set’s IR sensor and remote cannot be used in FLL. 
  • Computer (totally OK to use one already in your classroom) or tablet (suboptimal) – varies

Season:

  • Challenge released August 1 (register in May-July if possible)
  • (VA-specific) Tournaments one Saturday in November
  • (VA-specific) State tournament: first weekend in December
  • (VA-specific) No spring season – use your robot(s) for other learning!

How to fund it:

Curricula and lessons for FLL:

Non-FLL EV3 robotics curricula and lessons:

Other advice:

  • The Challenge Document will be released August 1. Read it.  Yes, all 30+ pages.  Then read it again, and get the kids to read it.  If you don’t understand something, ask!  Rules are enforced.
  • Use the rubrics, and encourage your team members to use them too!
  • Understand what the qualifier day is going to be like and share it with your team. Do a dress rehearsal day for judging and robot game.
  • Many teams run better if they’ve had a snack first.
  • At its best, project-based learning can mean that the kids learn what they’re most excited about, and you want to have some fun built in to every day, for sure. BUT there’s a list of deliverables they’ll be expected to have at the tournament.  Coaches can help kids prioritize.  It isn’t always easy.
  • Large teams can’t all work on the same thing at once. Plan together the work together, then split up into pairs/threes to build/program/research/brainstorm/write/assemble posters/etc.
  • Kids can specialize a little bit, but everyone must participate in all parts. Learning happens in all parts of FLL – don’t be afraid to require all team members to work on all parts, including the parts they’re not as confident in!
  • Have fun! FLL is a ton of fun, but it is hard

Where to get help: