Coaching Research Project
In addition to the Robot Game, teams also compete with their research projects. For the Project, teams will choose a problem related to the theme for that year and come up with an “innovative solution” to that problem. Some teams just dream up the idea, others meet with experts and try to get some kind of simple prototype built or designed. It is all welcome in the Project judging room!
What to expect in Project Judging
The team will have 10 minutes with the Project judges. The first 5 minutes is for the team to present their project to the judges. The five minutes includes any set-up time. During the next 5 minutes, the judges will ask questions. FLL tournaments are designed to celebrate what teams have accomplished – the judges will not be trying to poke holes in your team’s project, they will be trying to assess all that they have accomplished. Teams generally leave the judging sessions feeling like it went great!
Do your best to make sure the presentation does not run over 5 minutes, including any setup. Practice many times before hte event! Time starts when the team enters the room. The presentation should cover each item on the rubric if possible (rubrics are provided by FIRST each year, definitely refer to them and share them with your team). There are spots on the rubric for creativity, and having a creative presentation is great! It can help the judges to remember you. Communication is essential, though, so make sure your team doesn’t sacrifice clearly communicating what the team has done for being clever or silly.
Even though each team will have a unique project, after seeing 10+ teams over the course of a morning, it can get difficult for judges to remember details about each team. Leaving a 1-page printout with the judges can be helpful. A simplified version of the project poster works well as a summary of the project, and may help remind the judges of your team’s poster, too. Consider having a picture of the team dressed in the tee shirts they will wear at the competition on the page as well.
How to prepare:
You can start in the summer! The project topics are open-ended by design. FIRST wants the kids to be able to follow their interests and find a problem that they are excited about solving! You may read the teaser and think “They’ve got to give us more to go on than this!” only to find that the full challenge really doesn’t specify much more. You can definitely get a head start with your team by researching the topic and looking for problems and solutions just based on the info you get from the “teaser” that FIRST releases in advance.
Experts really help! Contact with experts really helps the kids get excited about the topic! Look into your network and the networks of parents on your team and try to find experts that will talk to your team. Even without a network connection, experts are often willing to help teams so be sure to ask. Experts are great at the start, when the team is trying to narrow down the problems they want to try to solve, and later on for feedback on the solution and sharing.
Prototypes aren’t required Read the rubric – high performing teams try to develop their project and determine it’s feasibility as much as possible. Do not worry that your team needs a startup-worthy idea for their project! It’s more important that they are excited about the problem they want to solve, and excited about the solution they are developing.
Presentation skills are important Your team does not need to memorize their presentation, but eye contact is nice so kids should be very familiar with what they are saying so they can look up! The most important thing is that the team should be knowledgeable and excited about the problem and solution that they are working on so they are comfortable explaining and discussing it with adults they don’t know. Be sure the presentation doesn’t go over the 5 minute time limit – some judges will cut them off to preserve time for asking questions.
Over the season:
Learn about theme
Meet with experts
Choose a problem
Develop an innovative solution
Meet with experts for feedback and sharing
Develop a 5 minute presentation of our solution for the judges
Take to event:
Project poster (if you make one)
Team project summary to leave with the judges (a booklet is a good example)
Props for thepresentation
Scripts to practice with
Prototype (if you have one)