Running a FIRST LEGO League Jr. Expo event may appear a little daunting task on the surface, but with careful planning, assistance from a responsible volunteer workforce and a smile on top of everything, the event can be full of fun and enjoyable by the participants as well as the organizers.
Scheduling the Event
The FIRST LEGO League Jr. season spans over a few calendar months and you are free to organize the season as you see fit, as long as the global program deadlines from FIRST are honored and there is no conflict with other events of Central Valley Robotics. This being said, we would advise to have the FIRST LEGO League Jr. season run parallel to the FIRST LEGO League season. This is for several reasons. Since many teams are school based, it makes it easier to start the season at the beginning of the school year and finish just before winter break or by February, thus finishing them during the fall or winter. At the earliest, the season may start in early October as the challenge is typically released in August. Additionally, there will be parents that have children in both FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League; Having concurrent seasons can make the process easier for those families. Another reason in favor of having the FIRST LEGO League Jr. season overlap with the FIRST LEGO League season is to have the FIRST LEGO League Jr. expos at the same time as the FIRST LEGO League tournaments. FIRST LEGO League Jr. events require much less resources (in almost every respect) to FIRST LEGO League events, so ’piggy-backing’ on to a FIRST LEGO League event helps to share some fixed costs and resources and handle many common logistics items together. Another benefit of combining the two events is that it allows the children of the FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League teams to interact and this can be a huge motivational factor for the FIRST LEGO League Jr. participants to move forward to the next stage.
However, the final decision of when to host an expo event and how to structure the season is left up to the organizers.
Any FIRST LEGO League Jr. expo event venue essentially needs the following areas:
- Pit: This is where the teams will stay most of the time. Each team requires s a table to display their Show Me poster, model and other things to share as well as their personal items including food and drinks. There should be enough chairs/seating space for all registered team members including coaches. Table organization should allow ample space between the tables for the children and parents, coaches, spectators and event staff to move around freely.
- Review Room(s): Review sessions require a quiet room with no interference. The room should be big enough to a table and chairs for the reviewers and at least one more table to place the team’s poster and model. There should be ample room for the kids to stand and demonstrate their project and plus space for coaches and parents to stand (chairs are optional).
- General Overflow area: Having an overflow area adjacent to the pit is extremely useful to reduce overcrowding of the pit area. This where the parents and coaches can stay during the review session. Usually, this is the area where food/refreshment/drink stalls are available.
- Reviewer’s Assembly area: This is a designated area that is quiet and has minimum level of interference from the ongoing event activities. Here, the reviewers can gather after the review sessions and discuss their notes about each team. The reviewers decide on appropriate award names and select one or more teams to receive the award. If required, this area can be simultaneously used as food/snack area for event staff and volunteers and for storing event supplies.
- Award Assembly Area: This is the area where “High Five Ceremony” takes place in front of the entire event audience. This area should have appropriate seating arrangements, lighting and audio/Video equipment that are necessary for typical award ceremony.
While choosing a suitable location for the expo event, the following items are important to be considered.
- Number of teams (10-30)
- Venue Cost – free or not
- Venue Access – Parking, disable access, safety,
- Policy, restriction of the premises
- Large space for team pits.
- Internet and Local Network Access – Staff and volunteers require internet access at events. Public internet access is not mandatory.
CVR will work with you and your committee to decide the right expo capacity based on the needs of the region and the resources available to your venue.
- Community Center
CVR encourages you to use a school for your expo and get the school to sponsor the event to ensure liability coverage.
Typically, FIRST LEGO League Jr. events take about half of a day, it can be either a morning event or afternoon event. If you choose to run the expo in parallel with another FIRST event, you may consider to have a joint opening for morning expo or joint closing ceremony for afternoon expo.
Make sure that you have formal agendas for attendees and volunteers/support team members that is communicated in time and followed to ensure the success of your event.
A sample set of agendas for an afternoon expo is provided below.
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Team Check-in & Pits Open for Setup
2:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Expo Officially Starts & Pits Open to Public
2:30 PM - 4:00PM
Expo and Pits Close to Public
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Activities, presentations, demos, other attractions at the Championship
4:40 PM - 5:00 PM
FIRST Robotics Competition Robot Demonstration
High School Teams could demonstrate their robots and show the current game. Attendance is optional; however, we encourage everyone to attend!
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
We ask that teams/kids sit on gym floor. Parents and
Spectators please sit in the stands.
Event Staff Agenda
12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
12:30 PM - 12:45 PM
12:45 PM – 1:00 PM
Final Event Preparations
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Support Expo, Pit, Review, Activities
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Pit Clean up, Activity Support
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Closing Ceremonies, High-Five line
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM