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.

Food Factor Season Open

Author: fllCoach | Files under About Lego League

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been three weeks since the 2011 season opened and I haven’t had a chance to post until today.

This year’s topic is food safety. I’m looking forward to my team learning about the topic because I don’t know much about it. What technology is out there? What are the challenges? What ideas will teams come up with?

This season I’m taking over as Lego League coordinator for our local elementary school. I plan to hold some workshops for our rookie coaches, so I hope to share some of the same information on this site. Most of it I posted last year, but I’m sure I’ll think of some new topics as I plan my classes. If there is anything you want to hear about, please drop me a line. As much as I remember what it was like to be a rookie coach, I’m sure I’m making a lot of assumptions as an experienced one.

5 responses. Wanna say something?

  1. Robert
    May 24, 2011 at 06:07:26

    I am a new coach. I was wondering how early your teems start meeting? Do you get together over the summer? If so what types of things do you do before the challenge is released?

  2. fllCoach
    May 24, 2011 at 10:38:02


    Truth be told, my teams normally don’t meet during the summer. We get started after school starts. I tried to get started in August last year, but kids (and families) are too much in the summer mindset.

    The first few years, I had two meetings a week. One meeting we would work on the project, the other meeting, we would work on the robot. The girls then knew what to expect at each meeting.

    Last year, we still had two meetings a week, but we spent the first month on the project, took it through completion, then worked on the robot in the last month and a half. During the robot phase, we practiced and tweaked our research presentation. That seemed to work quite well. Keep in mind, though, half my team was experienced girls so the robotics went faster than typical. In fact, it even surprised me. I was in a panic when we hadn’t started the robot with only 6 weeks left. But the girls came through.

    If you can get your team together during the summer working around vacations and what not, I would encourage it. The only thing you can work on is the research project, but it’s a good way to take a leisurely pace with it. Then, come September, you can concentrate on the robotics until your regional competition. I would suggest practicing your presentation once a week while doing robotics to keep it fresh in the kids’ minds and give them new questions that judges would ask as they occur to you. By the time competition rolls around, the presentation will be second hand nature no matter how the robotics end up.

    Good luck!

  3. Jason
    May 25, 2011 at 01:42:41

    Another brand new coach here. Is the topic “food safety” all that is given as a guideline for the project, or is there some additional prompt or guidance for the kids?

  4. fllCoach
    May 25, 2011 at 09:42:22


    That’s basically it. The topics are intentionally broad to let the kids’ creativity take over. As the season draws near, the FLL site will have more guidance in terms of links to information and tips on who to interview, but generally, consider the topic as broad as you think it is.

    Encourage your team to think outside the box. A couple of years ago, the topic was Transportation, but several teams did presentations on how germs and viruses get around. Food Safety does not lend itself for creativity of that sort (at least with my limited creative mind), but let the kids run with it.

  5. Dean Hystad
    May 31, 2011 at 13:00:24

    The challange has not been announced. That doesn’t happen until September 2. At that time additional details will be provided for the research project.

    A few seasons ago the challenge was called “Power Puzzle”. My team decided to get a jump on things and started studying all kinds of different ways to generate power. When the challenge was released we found out the research project was to perform an energy audit on a public building. What we learned was useful for general knowledge, but didn’t help much at all for the research project.

    If you want to get an early jump on the season your time is best spent developing generic skills. Building and programming, especially with sensors, is always useful. For research you can get your team started by having each member create a short presentation related to the topic. The can learn how to do an information search, how to organize their materials, how to write a bibliography, and how to speak to a group. The background information they learn will likely be useful, but don’t count on it being directly applicable.

    The research topic is not always generic.

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