There have been a lot of helpful and informative replies to these
questions, and I just wanted to supplement those with some Core Values
FLL creates an annual Challenge as a way to spur interest and excitement in
teams about robotics, solving problems, and applying technology to achieve
goals. Teams only get a limited time to work on the Challenge in a
competitive way, and that focuses interest, and introduces some real-world
engineering constraints. (This is the way that all FIRST sponsored
robotics programs work.)
As it says in the Coaches' Handbook, teams learn that friendly
competition and mutual gain are not separate goals. The Core Values
We learn together.
What we discover is more important that what we win.
We have FUN!
It is true that FLL tournaments have a competitive element--that adds some
spice to the mix. But what I'm looking for as a referee or judge is that
teams are competing with their own personal bests--to do the best that they
ever have with this Challenge. Our goal in putting on tournaments is to
allow the teams to "show what they can do"; they've worked all season long,
and this is our opportunity to see that and celebrate what they have
There is, officially, no such thing as losing an FLL tournament. There's a
participation award for every child (and often coaches), and most of us
long-time volunteers recognize that this is the most important award that
we give out. The experiences that the team has are the real long-term
reward for the work they put in during the season. (And many coaches have
heard from me that the most important part of the tournament is not when
the teams meet with the judges and referees...)
Yes, we do have awards to recognize excellence, and to provide an
additional incentive and inspiration for all teams to do their best, and
the hierarchy of tournaments is part of that structure. But you'll see
that the journey really is its own reward.
So, if your team goes to a tournament and is not invited to advance to the
next level, is that all there is--are they done? Not necessarily.
There's probably a break, to relax and get over any disappointment. But
after tournaments, team members are often full of new ideas, that they are
eager to tinker with and try out. We hope that they continue to improve
their skills with robotics, and problem solving, and sharing their
experiences with others. We encourage teams in areas with multiple
tournaments to attend one before or after their tournament, just to see
more ideas, and stay excited. There are also opportunities to attend via
the internet, locally and around the world, if you aren't able to go to one
in person, and to be in the audience for FTC, FRC or other robotics
events. Or mentor a Junior FLL team!
As Nick Swayne said, there is some interest in friendly events in the
springtime; I know that there are some opportunities already, and teams can
organize and host a friendly get-together with another group.
FLL and intellectual pursuits are like athletics--if you totally stop doing
things at the end of a season, you'll get rusty, and need time to get the
kinks out the following year, but, if you stay active in related
activities, you can continue to improve skills, and round out your
abilities by trying new things.
That's more than enough philosophizing for today. In just one more month,
we'll have tournaments underway, with teams talking about what they can do
now that they couldn't do before, what they are most proud of
accomplishing, and what makes the judges and the other teams say WOW!
Virginia-DC FLL Referee Advisor
On Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 1:20 PM, <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello all,
> My name is Tim. I am from Mindframe Education (Mindbot team), and this is
> our first time doing FLL, as well as my first year coaching an FLL team.
> The information is very overwhelming, and we are a little late in terms of
> preparation. I would greatly appreciate it if you guys can help me with the
> information on the followings:
> 1. The important dates other than the ones listed on the websites. For
> instance, on the FLL websites, it says that Nov 14th - Jan 17th are
> regional tournaments. But when is it for us, the Northern VA and DC area?
> And where does it take place?
> 2. Where does our regional tournament take place?
> 3. What happens when a team wins a loses in the regional tournament? Does
> the team advance to the next regional round, or does the team move on and
> compete in a bigger tournament? And when a team loses in the regional
> tournament, does it mean that they are done and have to wait till next year
> We would greatly appreciate it if you guys can provide us with the above
> information. Thank you in advance!
> With regards,
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