banner I have been a Lego League coach since 2007. This year, I wanted to document the season to give rookie coaches a resource to help them through to competition. The process can be intense, but it can also be a lot of fun for you and your team.

I hope to cover enough through my posts, but if I leave anything out, please feel free to leave a comment, or contact me.

Defining the Project

Author: fllCoach | Files under Research Project
  • Requirement is to define a problem, a solution, and a community within the overall topic for the season
  • Brainstorm ideas, no idea is too silly
  • Help team think outside the box
  • Narrow the ideas, then narrow the focus
  • Don’t be afraid to dedicate an entire meeting to just defining the problem
  • Do the research
  • Creative problems are good, but researching a boring topic well is also good

When I first heard there was a presentation aspect to Lego League, I was rather disappointed. Lego League is about building robots, right? Now I have to do liberal arts mumbo jumbo, too?

But over the years, I’ve come to realize that the research aspect of the competition is invaluable to these kids. It teaches them how to do research, makes them present in front of a group, and holds them accountable to their results by presenting to the community. I’ve seen very shy kids come out of their shell and build their self esteem through this aspect of the competition. It’s can also be a very fun and creative outlet for them.

The requirements of The Project is to define a problem within the overall topic and propose a solution. Within this scope, you must also define your “community,” or target audience for the problem and solution.

This can be a very daunting task because the overall topic can be very broad and far reaching. Last year, the topic was transportation. I saw teams that focused on technology add-ons to cars, another that showed how food gets from the farm to the grocery store, and another that showed how viruses go from one person the next. My team did a presentation on bicycle safety.

Picking a topic doesn’t have to be hard, though. Start with a brainstorming session. Have your kids throw out any idea that pops into their head no matter how silly. Encourage them to think outside the box. Help them think of things that aren’t in the mainstream of the topic (like the virus idea above).

Once you have a bunch of ideas, start narrowing down them down. Have the kids vote on a few that most interest them and narrow the focus. A creative idea wins points with the judges, but so does a well researched boring idea. I didn’t think bicycle safety was that creative of an idea, but my team researched it very well, did a very good presentation, and scored very well on the project.

Don’t be afraid to spend an entire meeting coming up with a problem to solve. Finding a good problem and defining the community it applies to is an important foundation to the project. The solution and how you present it can come later.

Once a problem and solution are defined, do the research. The research is very important. Go to the library, interview experts, and go on a field trip, if possible. Collect as much information as possible and whittle it down later. The judges will ask all kinds of questions and it’s important that your kids have all the bases covered so that they understand the problem and solution and can answer the questions that are asked.

As I implied above, my strength is in the technical side of things. Given that the project is my weak area, I welcome any comments from other coaches on your approach to the project and how you put everything together.

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