Coaching FIRST LEGO League Junior

Coaching FIRST LEGO League Junior

The question of coaching FIRST LEGO League Jr comes up among FIRST LEGO League coaches all the time. The short answer is yes, the long answer is yes, and the best answer is yes! Coaching FIRST LEGO League Jr (FLLJr) is fun. What makes FLLJr fun, you ask? Several components add to FLLJr’s fun factor: the kids, flexibility of the program, alignment of Core Values, and the Expos. This program begins to kindle children’s creativity, love of STEAM, and teamwork skills.

FIRST LEGO League Jr overview

Two or more adult coaches will work with children ages six to ten years old. Each team can have between two and six children. When a team registers on FIRSTinspires.org, that team will receive an Inspire Set, six engineering notebooks, and two team meeting guides. You can also purchase a WeDo 2.0 set at the time of registration. The team meeting guide provides coaches with a guideline to facilitate meetings with the team. The meeting can be one to two hours per week; flexibility is key for this program. The team meeting guide outlines how an FLLJr season can be a 6, 9, or 12-week program. I like one hour a week meetings and find it to be a pace that works with my group of children.

The Inspire set is fun; it is the LEGO components the team will need to create their working model using the engineering process of explore, create, test, and share. A crucial element is including the Inspire model in their team model. Each team will create a team model that uses a WeDo 2.0 set and a Show Me Poster. The information the children gather in their engineering notebooks will inspire these components. Like all FIRST programs, this program focuses around FIRST’s belief of problem-based learning and growth mindset. Kids do the work. All teams practice the FIRST Core Values; these include innovation, inclusion, and teamwork. The season wraps up with a non-competitive Expo. At the Expo, they share their working model and Show Me poster with other teams and judges. The judges highlight each team’s outstanding achievements and celebrate the season.

The financial cost for a team for a season is less than 500.00 US dollars. Expo fees vary, registration and the WeDo 2.0 set will cost USD$300.00.

Is it possible to coach FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr in the same season?

Can FLL coaches add FLLjr to their plate? Absolutely! It does add to the time commitment and when you are already committed to coach, that is a factor to consider. We all know that FIRST coaches give their teams 150% of their time and energy. The rookie year for FLLJr coach is less stressful than a rookie FLL coach. For many kids, FLL is their initial exposure to FIRST series of programs. FLLJr is an excellent opportunity to reach these children at a younger age and start building skills that will progress into FLL, and from FLL to FTC or FRC. These skills are not only crucial for FIRST programs, but for the development of the whole child. The LEGO brick: those up the fun factor exponentially!

Next time you think about becoming an FLLJr coach. Yes, the answer is “yes” and you will discover how awesome FLLJr is for children. Plus, the FLLJr program serves as great outreach for your FLL team. Your FLL team can mentor these young students with your guidance.

Useful resources

Mission Moon Challenge and WeDo Resources

Image Credit: HYPE Robotics, Cyborg Sisters

Faith
Faith Bongiorno   From South Carolina, USA