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What is the FIRST LEGO League Project?

The  FIRST LEGO League project guides youth through the process of working to solve a real-world problem.  Working on the FIRST LEGO League project develops a wide range of life skills, including divergent thinking, project management, time management, interpersonal communication, and presentation skills. By working on the project, FIRST LEGO League team members learn the science behind the challenge.  It’s important to have basic knowledge when working toward innovation in any field. The goal of the Project Judge is to analyze if the team completed the 3 required project parts, the quality of team’s research, the level of innovation of the team's solution, and the depth of sharing that the team performed.

The project also develops a personal connection with the Challenge topic and gives youth the opportunity to explore careers and meet professionals in related fields.  Please read the Challenge document provided by FIRST to teams provided in the link here: Click Here!   Sometimes there is a season-specific requirement. The Challenge document will specifically state if any season-specific instructions are requirements or just suggested procedures to tackle the Project.   While there is not a place on the rubric to track completion of season-specific requirements, please keep note when teams do not meet them. Occasionally, a team won’t follow the season specific requirements.  If this happens, be sure to comment on the team’s rubric under Research, as they did not identify the problem within the scope of the Challenge.  The team also won’t be eligible for Project Awards, Champions Awards, or to advance. However,  do not  write on the rubric that the team is no longer eligible for certain awards. The event's Judge Advisor will take care of investigating and notifying the team.   

Layout of the Session

Your Judging session will consist of a five minute presentation (which includes set-up time), and a five minute question and answer session.


When teams give their presentations, you’ll see teams who perform skits, give formal PowerPoint presentations, sing songs, or present in many other creative ways. There are three requirements to a Project presentation:  identify a real-world problem, create an innovative solution, and share their research and solution.  Whatever the format of the presentation, teams should complete and demonstrate all three parts of the Project. The solution does not need to be technical or include designing a new piece of technology.  Some of the most innovative projects do not involve technological solutions.  Teams must also tell the judges with whom they shared their research and solution. Sharing must occur before event day. As such, teams cannot use the event as a medium to share to qualify for this part of the project. Be ready to ask questions if the team leaves out any part of the project from their presentation.  It’s okay to evaluate the team lower under presentation if they didn’t include all three parts.

Question and Answer Session: 

Next is the five minute question and answer session. As you decide what questions to ask, choose those which will help you complete the rubric.  Be sure to ask about any items on the rubric if you need more information. Word the questions positively and avoid questions that try to catch teams with some aspect of their project they haven’t considered.  A few good questions are “How did your team organize and use your research?”, “What resources would you need to develop your solution?”, and “How did you share your project?” Feel free to refer to the Judge Prep pack for a helpful list of sample questions.  Also, consider making a list of standard questions you’ll ask every team, but also be ready to ask each team the right questions to help you complete the rubric.

Project Components

There are three components in a Project Judging Session: Research, Innovative Solution, and Presentation


The Research portion includes Problem Identification, Sources of Information, Problem Analysis, and Review of Existing Solutions. In Problem Identification, look for a well-defined problem statement. When evaluating a team’s Sources of Information, look for quality, variety and number of sources. Under Problem Analysis, look for teams performing their own analysis to form their own conclusions. Then, for Review of Existing Solutions, teams should demonstrate a good faith effort to confirm that their solution is original. 

Innovative Solution: 

The Innovative Solution portion includes the Team’s Solution, Innovation, and Implementation. When evaluating a team’s solution, focus on the team’s way to solve the identified problem. Under Innovation, is the team’s solution something new (or new to the team) and something that improves existing options, applies existing ideas in a new way, or something entirely different? For Implementation, teams should have considered the cost, ease of manufacturing, and any new inventions that would be needed to implement their solution.  Prototypes are examples at the exemplary level. 


The Presentation portion includes the Presentation’s Effectiveness, Creativity, and Sharing. In order for a Presentation to be effective, it should be well organized and clearly delivered. For Creativity, was the presentation engaging?  Did it make you want to hear more about the topic? Lastly, under Sharing, did team share their solution with those who might benefit?  Did they go beyond their comfort zone to share with people they don’t know?  Keep in mind that those who will benefit will be different each season.

Evaluating Rubrics

The Project Rubric is new this year! Even experienced judges need to take a look at the new rubric and check out the new layout. There is now only one comment section at the end, so please make sure that what you write will help a team improve for the next level of competition. 

As a judge, you’ll evaluate team performance in each rubric criteria.  From beginning to exemplary, each rubric area specifies the team behavior you should see at that level.  You can mark “ND” for “Not Demonstrated” if the team doesn’t provide any information to help you assess what they did. Please circle on the rubric where you evaluate a team. 

Project Rubric

When writing feedback for teams, recognize that teams work hard and treat them with respect. Complement the children’s achievements with vocabulary appropriate for the subject matter.  Make sure you positively communicate opportunities to improve.  Keep all your comments constructive. When taking notes, discussing teams, and completing rubrics, be specific and share examples or evidence that supports why the team achieved a particular evaluation.  Specific comments are more helpful to teams than general impressions. When you first meet in your judging pair, determine a system to keep detailed notes, complete rubrics, and make comments in between teams so that you’ll stay on time while giving quality feedback. When you first meet in your judging pair, determine a system to keep detailed notes, complete rubrics, and make comments in between teams so that you’ll stay on time while giving quality feedback. At the bottom of the rubric, circle one or more areas of strength for the team.  This acknowledges the team’s efforts and let’s them know that the judges recognized their strengths. During initial deliberations, these strength areas may help you select teams for award nominations.

CVR will provide all of the rubrics you will need on an event day, so please do not print your own! You must use the rubrics provided by CVR on an event day.

Preparing for Awards Deliberations

In addition to the requirements stated in the Project document, in order to be eligible for Project awards, teams must give a live presentation.  Audio visuals, including videos, may be used as enhancement only – teams may not “plug and play” for their presentation. As always, teams must demonstrate FIRST LEGO League Core Values.  Teams receive instructions that team members should do all the set up for their presentation.  When adults help with set up, while not ideal, there is often a good reason, like the props are large or heavy.  Any adult behavior that seems like it might be part of a larger concern about adult intervention should be reported to the Judge Advisor.

Sometimes it’s easy to nominate the team for an award because they were memorable for their large research notebook, or having an energetic or cute presentation.  While teams who win awards might have those qualities too, look beyond their initial appeal to determine whether they had quality and variety among their sources and were outstanding in other Project sub-areas. Also, please keep in mind that sometimes a great candidate for an award will be a team whose solution doesn’t include any technology.

Final Notes

Be sure to review the Project Judging Prep Pack, which includes the Project Judging Primer.

The Prep Pack contains a more in depth discussion of each rubric criteria and provides additional tips for judges.  You’ll want to review the rubric carefully and have a copy available as you answer the Project Certification questions.

Now that you have completed this training, be sure to review the Project Judging Prep Pack includes the Challenge document for each season.  It’s also available on the FIRST LEGO League website.  Be sure to check the FIRST LEGO League Project Updates on the website before attending your tournament. Thank you for taking the time to perform Central Valley Robotics’ Judge Training and volunteering to become a Judge!

Please complete your certification to be a Judge by logging into MyCVR and taking the certification test.