FLL - Middle School

First Lego League (FLL)   
Given the physical separation that exists between the elementary and Middle Schools of our district, it seem most prudent to initiate this program within the Middle School ages.  We are working to implement a FLL program for the middle school ages starting for the 2010-2011 year.
Here's how it works....
US FIRST creates a new "challenge" field each year.  The challenge field is laid-out on a 4' x 8' playing area, and a number of individual challenges are defined.  As the robot starts from a specifc position on the field, it may be required to pick up and move certain objects, engaging other mechanisms on the playing field, place itself within a particular space on the field -- or any of a range of other objectives.   Each challenge carries a point value, allowing robots to accumulate points as they complete various tasks.
Each FLL team builds a robot using Lego Mindstorms robot kits.  There are NO specific build instructions.  Each team must work together to creatively design, build, and program a robot that they believe will most effectively achieve the defined challenges placed before it.  As the robot completes it's challenges and racks-up points, it is scored against other robots in the competition -- and ultimately compete on a regional and even national level.
Each year there is also an assigned research project that the team is expected to research and present in a creative way.  The robot and it's associated technical interview is 50% of the total team score.  The research project presentation and its interview compose the other 50%.
It's Academic Athletics! 
The regional, statewide, and national competitions are staged with the ethusiasm of a sporting event.  The music is playing, the teams are cheering, the scores are celebrated.
They're learning ... but they don't know it ...
The gadgetry of the Lego Mindstorm kits, the challenge of the build, and the ultimate challenge of the competition pulls the kids into a learning experience that they're not even aware of.  As they build their robot and seek to best other teams, they are learning relationship skills (working wihin their team), math, science, engineering, logic, and programming skills. 
As they advance through the other programs at higher grades, they continue to refine their understanding of the various sciences and refine their team-building skills.
The US FIRST program is all about "Gracious Professionalism."  While the teams are competing with each other, they are EXPECTED to show the highest levels of sportsmanship and encouragement toward other teams -- and within their own teams.  The program is not only about academics, but also about character buidling.
Subpages (1): Funding