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Every year, FIRST LEGO League releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic.

Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Innovation Project, and the Core Values. Teams of up to ten children, with at least two adult coaches, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST Core Values. Teams may then attend an official tournament, hosted by our FIRST LEGO League Partners.

Past Challenges have been based on topics such as nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped population, and transportation. By designing our Challenges around such topics, participants are exposed to potential career paths within a chosen Challenge topic, in addition to solidifying the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) principles that naturally come from participating in the program. Team members also learn valuable life and employment skills which will benefit them no matter which career path they choose.

Participation Rules

Like other team activities, FIRST LEGO League has basic ground rules.  Failure to abide by these rules could result in ineligibility for awards at a tournament or other consequences deemed necessary by judges, referees, tournament organizers, FIRST LEGO League partners, Headquarters, or their designated representatives.  Additional rules and awards criteria may be found through the links below. 

General +
  • Teams, coaches and other supporters must demonstrate the Core Values in their actions and activities.
  • Throughout the season, teams need access to the following materials:
    • LEGO® MINDSTORMS Robot Set
      • LEGO Education has a deep commitment to creating products and experiences that are of the highest quality. They will release SPIKE Prime in early 2020 when they’re certain it meets that high quality bar. Given this change, LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime will not be available as an option for the 2020 competition season.
    • Computer or tablet with software to program the robot. (Laptop is recommended.)
  • Throughout the season, teams need access to the following season-specific materials:
    • Challenge Set
    • Documents from www.firstlegoleague.org/challenge:
      • Mission Model Build Instructions (released August 1 of Challenge season year)
      • Field Setup Guide (released Aug. 1 of Challenge season year)
      • Challenge and Challenge Guide (released at noon ET on August 1 of the Challenge season year)
Competition Rules +

A competitive team is one playing in a FIRST LEGO League official event. These additional rules apply:

  • A competitive team consists of a minimum of two (2) and a maximum of ten (10) children. Proper adult supervision is required as described in the FIRST Youth Protection Policy.
  • A team must be registered and fully paid in their national registration system to sign up for official events. Additional event fees may apply.
  • Team members are between the minimum and maximum age allowed in their region.**
  • All work presented at an official event is the work of the children on the team.
  • All team members attending an event are required to participate in all three (3) judging sessions, and be present as a team at the Robot Game matches. 

**A Partner may approve an individual’s participation request below or above the age range due to special circumstances or needs 

Awards/Advancement +

A competitive team must meet these additional criteria to be eligible for awards and/or advancement at an official event.

  • Teams are at their first official event of each tournament level for the season. For example, teams are only eligible for awards at the first qualifier they compete in each season.
  • Team members’ work must conform to the parameters and rules outlined in the Challenge and Challenge Guide.
Consequences +

FIRST® gives authority to volunteers staffing FIRST LEGO League official events to interpret and implement the Participation Rules, guided by global FIRST LEGO League training materials.

  • Teams, coaches and supporters at official events are expected to demonstrate the Core Values.
    •  Individuals interfering with, excessively instructing, prompting or heckling a team or volunteer may be asked to leave.
    • Severe infractions of these rules may result in a team’s dismissal from the event. FIRST LEGO League official event volunteers are provided training to identify and respond to these situations (See FIRST Youth Protection Policy).
  • Individuals and/or teams who fail to abide by the Participation Rules may be ineligible for awards at a tournament.

Participation Rules - PDF


What if you could build a better world? Where would you begin?

More than ever, we must come together to innovate and solve problems. In FIRST®, you are part of a thriving community brimming with inspiration, creativity, and hope for a stronger, more sustainable future—one that’s built better together. You have the power to help the cities, towns, and places you call home reach new heights. With the support of the FIRST community, this is your opportunity to lead our future forward—and up.

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the CITY SHAPER season, teams will choose and solve a real-world problem in the Innovation Project. They will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the FIRST signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®.

CITY SHAPER Challenge and Resources - coming August 1 at 12 noon ET!

Judging & Awards

FIRST LEGO League is known around the globe not only for what we do (the Robot Game and Project), but also how we do it, with Core Values at the heart. The rubrics used for judging reflect these three equally important aspects of FIRST LEGO League.

Official tournaments must follow the judging and awards structure determined by FIRST LEGO League. Although the audience mostly sees teams playing the Robot Game at tournaments, teams are also being judged on:

  • Core Values
  • Project
  • Robot Design

The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary are additional tools that may be used to help facilitate discussion in the Core Values and Robot Design Judging sessions at official events.  Your Partner will distribute the instructions to teams outlining the information to be included if your Region plans to require the Core Values Poster and/or the Robot Design Executive Summary at its events. Please contact your Partner for further information. The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary will be used as part of the judging at World Festival.

Rubrics (updated May 31, 2018)

Award Descriptions

About Judging

  • Teams must participate in all elements of a FIRST LEGO League competition including the Robot Game and all three judged areas in order to be eligible for any Core Award.
  • Judges use the rubrics to help them determine which teams will receive awards.
  • With the exception of the Robot Performance Award, awards are determined by a deliberation process, which is formulated around discussions of team performance in each category.
  • If a team does not exhibit Core Values at a tournament, they may be disqualified from winning any awards – including Robot Performance, no matter how well they scored.
  • Adults are strictly prohibited from directing team members or interfering with the judging process or robot rounds in any way.
  • No team is allowed to win two awards, unless one of the awards is for Robot Performance. Robot Performance is the only category based solely on score.
  • While they may attend other events for fun, teams are only eligible to win awards at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during the season.

Judging FAQ

A: The Champion’s Award recognizes a team that “embodies the FIRST LEGO League experience, by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project.” 
At an official event Judges will look for balanced, strong performance across all three areas; this means that all three judged sessions (Core Values, Robot Design, and Project) are weighted equally to determine the initial group of Champion’s candidates.  All candidates must also meet the following requirements:

  • Robot: The team must score in the top 40% of all teams participating in the Robot Game at the event.
  • Project: The team must complete all parts of the Project, including the identification of a real world problem related to the Challenge theme, creation of an innovative solution and sharing their research and solution with others, as well as any other season-specific requirements that may exist.
  • Core Values: The team must adhere to all Core Values throughout the event and the season.

All candidate teams are then reviewed during a deliberative process that considers Robot Performance placement and other qualitative factors.  Final determination of the award winner(s) is based on a vote of the full judging panel.

A: In accordance with the Participation Rules, teams are eligible for awards and advancement only at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during season.  In most cases, event capacity within a region limits team participation to only one qualifying event each season. 

The qualifier advancement policy is based on Champion’s Award criteria.  As described above, Champion’s Award criteria require that the team, performs well in all three judged areas (Core Values, Project, and Robot Design).  Teams are required to be ranked in the in the top 40% of official Robot Game scores to be considered for Champion’s Award and they must be ranked in the top 75% of official Robot Game scores to be eligible to advance.

Contact your local Partner or Tournament Director to find out how many teams will be advancing from the event you are attending. (See the official Advancement Policy).

It is possible for a team to receive a 1st Place Core Values, Project, or Robot Design Award but not advance to Championship if their Robot Performance score is ranked below the top 75% of teams at the event.  A team may win 1st Place in Robot Performance but not advance to Championship due to not having performed well in one or more of the three judged areas.

A: It is not possible to win the Robot Performance Award without doing the Project.  Teams must participate in all 3 judged areas (Project, Core Values and Robot Design) and the Robot Game to be eligible for any Core Awards and Robot Performance is a Core Award. This rule encourages teams to embrace the spirit of discovery and focus on all aspects of the Challenge.

A: The Robot Performance Award recognizes a team that scores the most points during the Robot Game.   Teams have a chance to compete in at least three 2.5 minute matches and only the highest score out of the three matches counts.   While some events may hold elimination or alliance matches for the excitement and fun, these may not be used to determine the Robot Performance Award.  Instead, any awards provided for elimination or alliance matches may only be Local Awards. Note that scores from any alliance or elimination rounds will not be used to determine the Robot Performance bar (at or better than the top 40%) needed to be met for qualifier advancement or Champion’s Award consideration.

A: Some Judges may warn the team that they have gone over five minutes, while others will allow the team to finish. In some cases, the tournament may need to keep a very strict time schedule, so Judges will end the presentation at five minutes. If the Judges allow a team to go over five minutes, that may reduce the amount of time Judges have to ask questions and could affect how the Judges assess your team. Your team should practice timing their presentation before the tournament to reduce the chance they will go over five minutes.

A: As stated in the Project document, teams should plan a presentation that they are able to set up and break down with no adult help. The coach should refrain from helping the team set up any presentation materials or props. There may be rare instances when a presentation prop or other item is too bulky or heavy for team members to carry. In this instance, some tournaments may allow the coach to assist the team, or the tournament may provide volunteers to move the heavy/bulky item. Check with your tournament organizer before the tournament if you have any questions about tournament policies and procedures.

A:  Each official tournament is held to a set of “Global Standards,” designed to provide a consistent experience for teams attending official events.  Some items, including the rubrics, are required to be used by events exactly as provided by FIRST.  Other items may be modified to meet local needs.

Official tournaments will not have any new or additional requirements, such as a binder or video, other than the required items outlined in the Challenge resources and FIRST website.

Each region may choose to require teams to present a Core Values Poster or Robot Design Executive Summary.  In addition, some regions may have completely optional additions that are only used for local awards.  These local, optional additions will not be taken into account by the Judges for any Core Awards.

If you have any questions about what is required at your tournament, please contact your FIRST LEGO League Partner or Tournament Director.