Welcome to FIRST LEGO League!   In FIRST LEGO League, teams are student driven and we teach students to work together on teams to solve problems.  The true success of the program comes from the process: teaching students to solve problems through Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition.  Other teams are not the enemy, but partners in a journey of success.  

This remainder of this section describes the ethos behind FIRST LEGO League and the governing participation rules for the program.

Participation Rules

Below are the official participation rules as described by FIRST, edited where appropriate to match our implementation in Central California. 


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:

  • A LEGO® Education SPIKE Prime or LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robot Set

  • Computer or tablet with software to program the robot. (Laptop is recommended.) LEGO Education software can be downloaded from LEGOEducation.com/downloads.

Throughout the season, teams need access to the following season-specific materials:

  • Challenge Set

  • The season Engineering Notebook and Team Meeting Guide

The following are also needed and are available on Challenge Materials and Resources or Building the Table and Mission Models:

  • Mission Model Build Instructions

  • Missions, Robot Game Rulebook, Field Setup

  • Challenge and Challenge Guide

Competition Rules

Teams can participate either through Class Pack, when the sessions will be delivered during curriculum time and the tournament will be held at school; or by registering as a separate team and competing at a qualifying event. Class Pack teams can advance to qualifying events but must register specifically to do so. These additional rules apply to teams competing in qualifying events:

  • 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. Central Valley Robotics can approve members outside the limit on a case by case basis.  
  • 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 the judging session, and be present as a team at the Robot Game matches 

Age Restriction Details

Central Valley Robotics considers students within age for the program if they fall between the limits below. No additional approval is required.

  • Upper Age Limit: The student is age 14 or younger as of January 1 of the challenge year. For example for the 2019 season, the student would need to be age 14 or younger as of January 1, 2019.
  • Lower Age Limit: The student turns age 9 during the season.

The FIRST Youth Registration system enforces the age range 9-14 when the members are added to that roster. In order to add members that fit our age ranges above, coaches will need to use the alternate method described on the Managing Your Team Roster and Uploading Forms.

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 overview, Engineering Notebook and Robot Game Rulebook.

More details about Central Valley Robotics' process can be found in Awards and Advancement.


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

More details about Central Valley Robotics' process can be found in Appendix 1 - Core Values Concerns and the Disqualification Investigative Process.

FIRST Values

Gracious Professionalism®

Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST Distinguished Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term "Gracious Professionalism ®."

Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.

With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.

In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.


Coopertition ® produces innovation. At FIRSTCoopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.

Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.

FIRST Core Values

We express the FIRST® philosophies of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

Getting Started Season Checklist 

Pre-Season Preparation

  • Register your team with FIRST LEGO League (details in this section: Starting the Season - Registering with FIRST ).

  • Pay your registration fee and order the materials you need.

  • Provide a valid email address when you register, and check that inbox often throughout the season for information from FIRST LEGO League and Central Valley Robotics.

  • Review the FIRST Core Values (above).

  • Decide how team members will be identified or selected

  • Identify at least 1 computer your team may use (must have internet access).

  • Install robot programming software on the computer(s) your team will use.

  • Build your Robot Game table (or just the borders).

  • Begin reading the rest of the Season Standards Manual to learn about our local event structure and processes.

Begin Meeting with Your Team

  • Check  your email!

  • Create a meeting schedule

  • Review the FIRST Core Values with parents and team members (and keep discussing them at each meeting!).

  • Set up a practice competition area and storage for equipment between meetings.

  • Have team members begin researching this year’s Challenge theme to get a head start on the Project.

After Challenge Release (August 4)

  • Check your email regularly for communication from FIRST LEGO League and Central Valley Robotics.

  • Download the Challenge from Challenge Materials and Resources and review it as a team.

  • Download the Mission Model building instructions at Challenge Materials and Resources and build the Mission Models from your Challenge Set.

  • Have team members begin designing, building, and programming your team’s robot.

  • Have team members begin brainstorming ideas for innovative solutions.

  • Submit paperwork to Central Valley Robotics (details in this section: Managing Your Team Roster and Uploading Forms)

  • Register for an official event. (Details here: Tournament Registration Policies)

  • Review the rubrics that will be used to judge your team at tournaments. Discuss them with your team.

  • Assign a team member to check the Challenge Updates and Judging FAQ frequently for any new information. ( www.firstlegoleague.org ) and Challenge Materials and Resources.

  • Practice, practice, practice!

  • Prepare any documents required by your tournament organizers.

  • Make a plan to celebrate at the end of your season.

Optional Tasks

  • Complete several team-building activities with your team.
  • Have your team build a practice robot and try some of the programming tutorials with your LEGO Education set. (www.legoeducation.com/downloads)
  • Attend an unofficial event or practice scrimmage (if available).