Welcome back! I hope you had a great summer. For the new families, welcome to SDJA.
I am a parent of a third and fifth grader and I am writing you today about First Lego League, Jr. Last year, it was my pleasure to coach a team of second and third graders and take them to LEGOLAND for their first expo, where they displayed their Lego project and presented to the judges. It was very rewarding.
When I first wrote to the parents last year about building FLL and FLLjr teams, I had twenty-four students who wanted to participate. This would have required at least three more and ideally five more parents to volunteer to coach. Unfortunately, we were only able to field the one team.
I am writing you today to ask if you can help us expand the number of teams this year and to offer more opportunities to be a part of FLL and FLLjr.
What is FLLjr?
It’s never too early to discover STEM. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math concepts. FIRST LEGO League Jr. is designed to introduce STEM concepts to kids ages 6 to 10 while exciting them through a brand they know and love − LEGO®.
Guided by adult coaches, teams (up to 6 members, grades K-4) explore a real-world scientific problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc. Then they create a Show Me poster that illustrates their journey of discovery and introduces their team. They also construct a motorized model of what they learned using LEGO elements. In the process, teams learn about teamwork, the wonders of science and technology, and the FIRST Core Values, which include respect, sharing, and critical thinking. At the close of each season, teams come together at Expos to strut their stuff, share ideas, celebrate, and have fun!
When students are engaged in hands-on STEM experiences, they build confidence, grow their knowledge and develop habits of learning. When adults coach these students, they encourage them to try, fail, and try again, while connecting STEM concepts to real-world examples.
FIRST LEGO League is the most accessible, guided, global robotics competition, helping students and teachers to build a better future together. The program is built around theme-based Challenges to engage children ages 9 to 16 in research, problem solving, coding, and engineering. The foundation of the program is the FIRST Core Values, which emphasize teamwork, discovery, and innovation. Students emerge more confident, excited, and equipped with the skills they need in a changing workforce.
Each team would meet once per week, after school or in the evenings. After school works best for most families. The financial commitment for FLLjr is rather small—perhaps $200 per student for a program that runs from September through February and includes a day at LEGOLAND. FLL is a larger commitment and it will depend on the number of students involved, as the costs will be split. This is not a kayefetand coaches are not paid. Out-of-pocket expenses are split between participating families.
To offer the opportunity for as many kids as possible to be involved, we need parents to coach. You should plan on about one hour of preparation time per week and one hour of meeting time. For the older kids, more time may be needed, particularly as they approach their first competition. Let’s just say it’s less time than coaching Little League or soccer, you can’t get a sunburn, and it never gets rained out.
Coaching FLLjr is not a difficult commitment, provided you have the patience to work with younger students. FLL is far more involved. I have not coached an FLL team, but have spoken extensively with those who have and certainly it involves a greater commitment. But both programs are excellent opportunities for students and parents to work together in a team structure.
If you are interested in coaching or participating in either program, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your information and the name of your student’s information (name, age, grade). First priority for FLLjr will go to last year’s team members. Unfortunately, if we do not get other coaches, we’ll be unable to put together multiple teams, so please consider volunteering to coach your child’s team
Thanks very much! I look forward to hearing from you.