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Illinois Coaches’ Meeting. October 6, 2011. Agenda. Welcome and Introductions Basics of Coaching a Team A Rookie Team’s Journey Judging Awards at regionals Who qualifies for state? What does a judging session look like? Tournaments What to expect at your regional

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Illinois coaches meeting


  • Welcome and Introductions

  • Basics of Coaching a Team

    • A Rookie Team’s Journey

  • Judging

    • Awards at regionals

    • Who qualifies for state?

    • What does a judging session look like?

  • Tournaments

    • What to expect at your regional

    • What to expect at the state tournament

  • Resources

  • Q & A

  • Review of Table Elements

Illinois coaches meeting


Leadership Team

Tom Kleinschmidt Acting FLL Partner, INSciTE Board member

Bob Hubberts Coordinator of State Tournament

Diane Michalczuk Head Judge Advisor

Brian Gravelle Head Referee

Jane Gravelle Assistant Head Judge Advisor, Social Media

Patti Krinninger Administrator

Eric Arndt Media Relations

Mercie Brumfield FLL Demos and team recruiting

Mike McKellar Down-state team recruiting, Social Media

Patty Barton VIP Events

Regional tournament coordinators
Regional Tournament Coordinators

Batavia (2) Ron Karabowicz

Champaign/Urbana (2) Bob Smith

Chicago – Miles Davis Mike McKinney

Chicago – Girl Scout Vicki Caluen

Chicago – UIC Rich Levey

Harvard Mimi Book

Lake Zurich Dave April

Mount Prospect Tony DeRicco

Palatine/Quest Rich Levey

Peoria (3) Bruce Stott and Prasad Parupalli

Rockford Mark Anderson

Streator Pam Riss

Zion Robin Denil and Mary Olson

Program basics getting started
Program Basics - Getting started …

Don’t take this too seriously … Have FUN!

  • If it is your rookie year, enjoy it for what it is: a survey of the FLL Program. Your goal should be to simply take a lap around the block with FLL.

  • With a fun experience and meeting realistic goals under your belt, you and the kids will be brimming with ideas about what you plan to do next year.

  • Our goal is for you to help the kids have fun with robots while they get comfortable with technology and learn something about a real-world problem.

Program basics know these
Program Basics – Know these!

The following six items should be known inside and out by all coaches and mentors:

  • Core Values

  • The Project

  • Field Setup

  • The Missions

  • The Rules

  • Game rulings

Mission statement
Mission Statement …

The students win by participating.

Your Goal should be to let the students have fun and enjoy the experience …so they will desire to return next year!!!

Students must do the work
Students Must do the Work!

FLL defines children doing the work as children making all critical decisions in the robot-building, programming and project development processes.

If you find yourself pushing a solution, you’re doing the team a disservice.

Not only are children not thinking for themselves, but you may also suppress

a revolutionary idea…Children become problem solvers by finding solutions


Resist the temptation to solve it for them.

Get all co-coaches, parents and mentors to know the boundaries

On the other hand
On the Other Hand ….

A coach does a disservice if he/she only hands the parts and manuals to the children and leaves them on their own.

It is the COACH who

  • Often is the inspiration in science and technology.

  • Uses the teachable moments to talk about teamwork and building on others’ ideas to make them better.

  • Who points out what Gracious Professionalism means

Robot design
Robot Design

Even though the kids will be itching to get started there are some things to do before putting the first pieces of the robot together

  • FIRST things first, build the mission components and learn the goals and rules of the mission.

  • Discuss with the kids about the needs for the robot. Have them:

    • Characterize all of the missions as easy, medium, hard, and very hard

    • Discuss the ‘requirements’ of each mission. For example does the robot need to push something, lift something, or deliver something? Does the robot need to travel far or fast? Does the robot need reach high?

    • Discuss possible impacts of the mission mat and the table. Where are there lines where a light/color sensor might help? How can the walls be used to guide or align the robot? How much room is there for the robot to maneuver? What is the easiest way to get from one point to another?

    • Determine which tasks could be done at the same time or with a single program

    • Determine what tasks or groups of tasks they want to go after first. (Create a priority list of all for the whole table.)

    • Set short, medium, and end targets for missions (or point totals)

  • A team is successful based on what they learn, not the number of points they get on the table.

Robot construction
Robot Construction

Keeping in mind the information gathered during the design phase, have the kids start building.

  • If you have a large team identify a few to do the main robot construction.

    • Let the other kids know that there will be lots of opportunity for construction of attachments, and changes to the robot later that they will need to make.

  • If you have the access to more than one NXT brick, have multiple build teams, but set a short timeframe for a team decision on the final robot design to use.

  • Have the kids build the first attachments to solve the easiest missions, giving the students an early sense of accomplishment.

  • Add on or modify the robot and attachments following the short, medium, and long term project goals.

Robot programming
Robot Programming

Have your coaches all go through the programming tutorials that come with the LEGO Education version of the NXT software.

  • Teach the kids how to program basic actions on a table with only one or two missions set up.

    • Movement: forward, reverse, sharp turns, gentle curves

    • Distance: rotations (Learn how to calculate number of rotations for a given distance)

    • Sensors: Touch, Ultra Sonic, Light, Color

  • Once they have some basic knowledge to work with have the kids begin to solve specific missions. Try to divide up the tasks between the team members so there is not too much overlap of effort.

  • Some helpful hints to make the programming more successful:

    • Use the base walls to align the robot, or add a ‘jig’ to make setting up the robot in base as consistent as possible

    • Use the walls out on the field. Run along a wall or drive into a wall to straighten out the robot

    • Use a light sensor and the black lines when traveling long distances

  • Save early and often!

Robot timeline
Robot Timeline

Have your team set a timeline (project schedule)

  • Start with the date of the competition and work backward identifying dates for milestones such as:

    • Mission goals and strategy

    • Robot design complete

    • Robot base construction complete

    • Short, medium, and final missions complete

    • Robot construction complete.

      • This is a very important date to set at least one week prior to the competition. After this date no changes to the robot nor the attachments should be made. If an exception is made the whole team should agree.

    • Robot programming complete

      • Also is important and should be at least one week in advance of the competition. Teams which practice getting the maximum possible points with what they have at that point typically will do better than teams which make changes the day before a competition.

    • Table run practices

      Have the kids create the timeline they will understand it much better than if it is just told to them.

The project
The Project

Use the project guidelines provided by FLL

  • Learn and understand the project rubrics!

  • Dedicate certain practice days to working only on the project

  • Find at least one fieldtrip the kids can take related to their research.

  • Identify a presentation style the kids enjoy, it make practice go much smoother

  • Set goals for the project that are age appropriate for your team

  • Assign research as homework and engage the parents to make sure they can help guide the activity

  • Have the kids develop and write the presentation script, but be there to help them organize their materials and time.

  • Just like for the robot set a schedule for project with key milestones:

    • Topic selection

    • Problem identification

    • Solution brainstorming, and selection

    • Presentation design and scripting

    • Practice start and completion

Awards and judging
Awards and Judging

Regional Awards

Champion’s Award

Robot Design Award

Project Award

Core Values Award

Robot Performance Award

Rookie Team Award

Judges’ Award (optional)

A team can win only one judged award plus the Robot Performance Award

Awards and judging1
Awards and Judging

Champion’s Award - This award recognizes a team that embodies the FLL experience, by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project.

  • Determined by equal weighting of the following categories

    • Robot Design

    • Project

    • Core Values

  • Plus these additional requirements:

    • Robot Game score in top 50% of teams participating at the event

    • Team must complete all 3 parts of the Project

    • Team must adhere to all Core Values

Awards and judging2
Awards and Judging

Judges’ Choice Award

During the course of competition the judges may encounter teams whose unique efforts, performance or dynamics merit recognition.

  • Some teams have a story that sets them apart in a noteworthy way.

  • Sometimes a team is so close to winning an award that the judges choose to give special recognition to the team.

  • Judges Awards allow the freedom to recognize remarkable teams that stand out for reasons other than the Core Award categories.

Awards and judging3
Awards and Judging

Rookie Team Award

  • Teams must register as a Rookie Team before the regional tournaments by sending an email to indicating that all members of the team are new to the activity this year including

    • Coach

    • Assistant Coach

    • All team members

  • An announcement will be sent to all coaches through the Announcement List inviting Rookie Teams to register.

  • The winner will be determined using Champion’s Award criteria.

  • Awards and judging4
    Awards and Judging

    Core Values Poster

    • The Core Values Poster will be used as a tool to jumpstart a conversation between the teams and the judges.

    • It is designed to help teams focus their thoughts and examples from throughout the season in advance of the judging session so they may be conveyed more easily and effectively to the judges.

    • Teams will not be judged on the appearance of the poster.

    Judging highlights
    Judging Highlights

    Teams will be judged in 3 categories:

    • Robot Design: 10 minutes

      • Interview at the pit table or in a separate room

      • Presentation not required

    • Project: 10 minutes

      • Presentation before judges in separate room

      • 5 minutes for setup and presentation, 5 minutes for questions and answers

    • Core Values: 10 minutes

      • Teams complete a fun activity while judges observe

      • Core Values judges will ask questions about the Teamwork Activity, the displayed Core Values Poster and the season

    Who qualifies for the state tournament
    Who qualifies for the State Tournament?

    • Determined using the same criteria as for the Champion’s Award

      • Robot Design

      • Project

      • Core Values

    • We have 64 slots at the State tournament in Illinois

    • We expect approximately 25% of the teams will advance to the state tournament

    • 16 team tournament - approximately 4 teams will qualify for state. There may be some differences due to rounding or if we have more than 256 teams competing.

    State tournament awards
    State Tournament - Awards

    Champion’s Award

    • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be awarded.

      Core Values Awards:

      • Inspiration Award

      • Teamwork Award

      • Gracious Professionalism Award

        Robot Design Awards:

      • Mechanical Design Award

      • Programming Award

      • Strategy and Innovation Award

        Project Awards:

      • Research Award

      • Innovative Solution Award

      • Presentation Award

        Robot Performance Award

      • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be awarded.

    Additional Awards:

    • Team Spirit Award

    • Rookie-Team-of-the-year Award

    • Judges’ Choice Award

    • Ambassador Awards

      • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be awarded

    Ambassador award
    Ambassador Award

    This is an award that Illinois uses to honor teams who demonstrate strong FLL Values and who will act as ambassadors for FLL in Illinois.

    Selection Process

    • Teams must first qualify for the Illinois State Tournament by advancing from a regional qualifying tournament.

    • Teams submit a completed Illinois FLL Values Ambassador application.

    The team selected as the Illinois FLL Ambassador will be presented with a trophy at the state tournament. This team will also receive an FLL Core Values nomination to the FLL World Festival.

    Judging good things to know
    Judging – Good things to know

    The Coaches’ Handbook – know it!


    • Scoring for the judged areas is based on the RUBRICS

      which can be found on the FLL website at this link :

    • The score sheets that judges will be using are exactly the same as the rubric!

    Judging general policies
    Judging – General Policies

    • FLL awards policy dictates that no one team receive more than one team-based award

      • Exception: A team may win two awards if one of them is for Robot Performance

    • Judges and Local Awards may only be used to recognize teams for an accomplishment not addressed by a Core Awards category

    • All teams should exhibit Gracious Professionalism and demonstrate FLL Core Values at the tournament and throughout the season

      • An egregious issue in the eyes of the judging team may disqualify a team from receiving any awards, advancing within the region’s tournament system or participating in other FLL events for the remainder of the season

    Feedback from judging
    Feedback From Judging

    • FIRST has directed that teams should receive feedback and not scores or quintile rankings at any state or regional tournaments.

    • The scoring system used at all regionals this year will be based on the Rubrics

    • Regional Tournament Coordinators (RTCs) may choose to hand out the feedback forms at the end of the day or email them to teams after the tournament.



    Regional Tournament

    Participation in regional tournaments
    Participation in Regional tournaments

    • Each team must be registered with the FIRST national organization($225 registration fee).

    • Each team must be registered with INSciTE Illinois ($65 fee and completed registration form)

      • Registration fee covers both regional and state tournaments

    • Each team must bring a completed waiver/consent form for each team member. Team members include coaches and any other adults who help the team.

      • Have the forms filled out several weeks prior to your regional event. Make photocopies and retain one set. If you make it to state, you wont have to repeat the process since you will have copies in hand.

      • Teams will not be allowed to participate in their Regional if a signed consent form is not provided at the regional. This will be enforced without exception.

    Regional assignments
    Regional Assignments

    Teams select top 3 choices when registering for the Illinois tournament series. We will do our best to give you one of your choices.

    Teams that have registered first will be given priority if a conflict arises. So register early if you can!

    Regional team assignments will be posted on our website by October 31st. Teams should hear from regional tournament coordinator by November 15th .

    Regional Tournament Coordinators (RTCs) are all volunteers so be nice to them!

    • When you hear from your RTC be sure to respond ASAP.

    • They should not have to track you down.

    • If you are not intending to attend the regional tournament, call or email the RTC in advance so they can adjust the schedule before the tournament.

    At the regional
    At the Regional

    The Regional is an all day event, held on a Saturday or Sunday in November or December.

    • Arrange for extra parental help in guiding the children during the long day

    • You will receive a schedule which is very tight. Know where you need to be and when. Get your team to their appointments early.

    • Assign a parent as the schedule keeper, as coaches are usually taking care of last minute crisis with the robot, programming, or project.

      Find out if your regional will be selling food, or make arrangements for food to be brought in for your team.

    • Make sure parents know if their child needs to bring money for food

      Teams may be ask to provide

    • A volunteer for the day to help at the regional (or multiple volunteers splitting shifts)

    • A table and or mission elements (to be shared with other teams for practice)



    State Tournament

    State tournament
    State Tournament

    Friday Night January 14th & Saturday January 15th

    64 teams competing


    Forest View Field House

    2121 S. Goebbert Rd.

    Arlington Heights,IL

    Family members and friends are encouraged to attend – no charge for admittance.

    Food and beverages will be available for sale both Friday (snacks) and Saturday (breakfast, lunch, snacks)

    At the state tournament
    At the State Tournament

    Teams from cities within 50? Miles of Arlington Heights will be required to participate in presentation, teamwork, and robot design judging on Friday night.

    The State Tournament is also an all day event, so same recommendations can be made regarding help

    • Arrange for extra parental help in guiding the children during the long day

    • Know where you need to be and when. Get your team to their appointments early.

    • Assign a parent as the schedule keeper

      There is a lot of things going on at the State Tournament, so make sure your team knows what is expected of them.

      Don’t miss the coaches meeting where very important information and guidelines will be provided!


    • Resources section of INSciTE Illinois website

    • Team Resources from FIRST at

    Resources communications
    Resources - COMMUNICATIONS

    • Email address for the state organizing committee

      Announcement List

  • Email tool we use to get information out to all of the teams

  • Coaches receive an invitation to subscribe when they register nationally

  • Can also request to join the announcement list on the website at

    Yahoo Group

  • Tool you can use to communicate with other teams

  • Coaches receive an invitation to join when they register nationally

  • Other members of the team can join by contacting us at

  • Review of table elements
    Review of Table Elements

    • Review U Tube videos

    • Introduce Brian Gravelle and proceed to tables