Junior FIRST Lego League
Jr.FLL follows the same topics given to FIRST LEGO League (FLL). While FLL teams conduct research projects and design autonomous robots specifically to carry out missions relating to the topic, Jr.FLL teams conduct much smaller projects and makes models out of LEGO elements to illustrate one part of the topic. They may also use LEGO WeDo, a programmable robotics kit, as part of their models.
Currently, the program is available in Belgium, Canada, Israel, Spain, The Netherlands and United States.
Junior FIRST LEGO League started out as a pilot program in 2004 to encourage young children to have interest in science and engineering. In the first pilot year, the teams were provided with some specific LEGO parts by FIRST, but that idea was dropped in later years. Teams now use any LEGO elements that they have to build the models. The pilot years were done in three phases from 2004 to 2006. The program was officially launched in 2007 during the Power Puzzle season. Originally, the program was called JFLL. It was then rebranded to Jr.FLL in 2008.
During the first five years, the program was not referred as a robotic program. The only requirements to build models out of LEGO elements were to have some moving parts and include at least one simple machine based on a given topic of that year. FIRST has provided an option to purchase a Jr.FLL Base Kit that contains many LEGO elements including gears, motor, and other TECHNIC elements. In 2009, with the new robotics kit by LEGO Group, the program included LEGO WeDo as an optional kit which allows children to connect a motor and/or a sensor to other LEGO bricks, gears and other TECHNIC elements. It also has drag-and-drop programming interface for children to write robotics programs. The Jr.FLL has been stated in FIRST's website as a robotic program since then.
The number of participants has been increasing each year. However, the program was limited to the United States and Canada until 2009. The first global partner that offers Jr.FLL in their region is Benelux.
Jr.FLL is designed to be a non-competitive and community-based program. The teams are formed within local community and participate in local events. FIRST provides guidelines to help coaches to run their teams and local organizers to run Jr.FLL events. However, FIRST does not organize any Jr.FLL event, unlike other FIRST programs.
The program is designed to be flexible; there are no specific dates for the program. Each team may decide when to start the activities and for how long as long as the registration is done within the season calendar which is from August to June each year. A team consists of 2-6 team members. There is an age limit that team members must not be older than 9 as of January 1 of the year the Challenge is released. Although there is no lower bound on age, FIRST suggests that the program is intended for children 6 or older.
After registering a team, the coach guides students to do research by following the Challenge guideline. The team may have a field trip or visit experts to help children to learn more about the topic. Children will then work on their "Show Me" poster and LEGO models to demonstrate their findings according to the instructions in the Challenge. The team may choose to use any LEGO parts that they have at home to construct their models. Optionally, the team may purchase Jr.FLL Base Kit or LEGO WeDo Kit to use.
|Year||Theme||Number of Participants||Number of Teams||Number of Events||Notes|
|2004||No Limits (Disabilities)||375+||125||9||The first pilot year. The challenge was to find ways to improve access for people with different physical abilities.|
|2005||Ocean Odyssey||981+||327||27||The second pilot year. The topic was related to learning about habitat of marine life|
|2006||Nano Quest||2,400+||700+||30||The third pilot year. The challenge provided an opportunity for children to learn about the scale of nanometer.|
|2007||Power Puzzle||6,000+||1,004||40+||Official launch. The challenge was on energy. Children needed to perform an energy audit and seek answers about the source of energy for everyday appliances.|
|2008||Climate Connections||7,000+||1,180||44||Learn about tools used to study climate.|
|2009||Smart Move||1,500||Relaunched as a robotics program. The first year to expand globally. The topic is about Transportation.|
|2010||Body Forward||Biomedical Engineering|
|2011||Food Factor||12,000 (est.)||Food safety|
|2012||Super Seniors||Improve the quality of life for seniors|
The program encourages teams to go out and tell their story to others after they have completed the poster and the models. They may participate in one of the well-established Jr.FLL events, which are typically part of FLL tournaments run by independent FLL partners. Most of these events are called Jr.FLL Expos. Alternately, they may host their own event in the neighborhood or at school to showcase their accomplishment.
At the Jr.FLL event, there will be "Reviewers" (the judges) to ask children some questions about what they have learned. They may be asked details about the project and the models that they built. The Jr.FLL concept is that everyone is a winner, therefore, the event organizers are recommended to give an award to each team that participates in the event.
The organizers can create any list of awards. Below is the list of awards suggested by FIRST:
- Amazing Movement Award
- Gracious Professionalism Award
- Against All Odds Award
- Effort and Learning Award
- Complexity and Decoration Award
- Most Explosive Award
- Robust Design Award
- Construction Innovation Award
- Team Spirit Award
- Teamwork Award
- Inquiring Minds
Since the inception of the program, Jr.FLL events have been held by local organizers or official FIRST LEGO League partners in the participating countries, but not by FIRST organization. Recently, FIRST has held an annual event called Jr.FLL World Festival Expo each year in St. Louis, Missouri as part of the FIRST Championship, but the program is still relies on almost one hundred events of local organizers throughout the year. The following are some notable Jr.FLL events not organized by FIRST.
The most notable event is First State Junior FIRST LEGO League Expo. It coincides with a FLL Championship and FIRST Tech Challenge regional competition in one venue at Bob Carpenter Center in Delaware. The event has been referred as the largest single-day robotics competition in the world.
LRC Jr.FLL Expo organized by Livingston Robotics Club in New Jersey is the largest outdoor Jr.FLL event in the United States. The event is held with additional enrichment activities and other outdoor games in May.
- The Junior FIRST LEGO League, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- Junior FIRST LEGO League - accessed March 24, 2012
- Junior FIRST LEGO League - Challenge History, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- Junior FIRST LEGO League Event Guide, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- WeDo Concept, LEGO Education - accessed December 23, 3009
- Impact, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- What's Jr.FLL, Techniek Promotie - accessed December 23, 2009
- 2009 Jr.FLL Smart Move Season Schedule, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) Coaches’ Guide - accessed December 23, 2009
- Products and Pricing, FIRST - accessed December 31, 2009
- Smart Move, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- 2010 CHALLENGE OVERVIEW, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- Snack Attack Logo and Teaser, FIRST - accessed November 29, 2010
- 2012 Super Seniors Challenge, FIRST - accessed June 4, 2012
- What Events And Teams Are In My Area?, FIRST - accessed December 23, 2009
- Event Guide, FIRST - accessed March 24, 2012
- What Events And Teams Are In My Area?, FIRST - accessed March 24, 2012
- Downingtown Team Will Compete At State Robotics Competition, Downingtown-Exton Community Courier, January 27, 2010 - accessed March 24, 2012
- About First State - accessed March 24, 2012
- Teens Build the Best Robots ... In the World!, Patch, May 9, 2011 - accessed March 24, 2012
- LRC Jr.FLL Expo, Livingston, New Jersey, Livingston Robotics Club - accessed March 24, 2012
- Los Angeles Region FIRST LEGO League (LAR FLL) Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) - accessed March 24, 2012
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