The Challenge

Every year, FIRST® LEGO® League releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic.

Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. Teams of up to ten children, with at least two adult coaches, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST® LEGO® League Core Values.

Past Challenges have been based on topics such as nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped population, and transportation. By designing the Challenges around such topics, participants are exposed to potential career paths within a chosen Challenge topic, in addition to solidifying the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) principles that naturally come from participating in the program. Team members also learn valuable life and employment skills which will benefit them no matter which career path they choose.

The 2019 challenge:

What if you could build a better world? Where would you begin?

More than ever, we must come together to innovate and solve problems. In FIRST®, you are part of a thriving community brimming with inspiration, creativity, and hope for a stronger, more sustainable future — one that’s built better together. You have the power to help the cities, towns, and places you call home reach new heights. With the support of the FIRST community, this is your opportunity to lead our future forward — and up.

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the CITY SHAPER season, teams will choose and solve a real-world problem in the Innovation Project. They will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the FIRST signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®.

2019/2020 FIRST® LEGO® League - CITY SHAPERSM
Month Item Details
APR 2019 Registration Registration for the CITY SHAPERSM Season opens
JUL|AUG 2019 Robotics Camps Join us of our Robotics Camps in preparation for the competition
AUG 2019 Challenge Release The CITY SHAPERSM Challenge will be released
SEP 2019 Workshops Intro to Robotics Workshops for Teams
(by request)
OCT 2019 Coaches Meeting Join us to discuss the role of the coach
Workshops Intro to Robotics Workshops for Teams
(by request)
NOV 2019 Official Launch Ceremony Official Launch of the CITY SHAPERSM Season
Workshops Intro to Robotics Workshops for Teams
(by request)
MAR|APR 2020 National Championship SEASON SUSPENDED >>>
APR 2020 FIRST® LEGO® League World Festival CANCELLED >>>
  • Registration


    Team Registration with LEGO MINDSTORMS Kits: $5,500.00 TTD
    Team Registration without LEGO MINDSTORMS Kits: $2,000.00 TTD

    Included in registration fee:

    One FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge set (the practice field for your robot, including an exclusive selection of LEGO bricks, dual lock fasteners, and a roll-out field mat);


    • If your team already owns a LEGO MINDSTORM kit, you are not required to purchase another.
    • The practice field table is not included in the registration fee. This can be purchased separately from NIIHERST if needed.
    • Membership expires at the end of each FIRST® LEGO® League season. The Challenge Set changes with the new Challenge every season.
    • Registration Fees may be paid at any branch of NIHERST.

  • Volunteering

    Volunteers are the power and passion behind the FIRST® LEGO® League. They impact more than 400,000 youths globally each year. Whatever your expertise, the FIRST® LEGO® League has a volunteer opportunity for you! For 30 years, FIRST® volunteers have fueled the mission by inspiring millions of young people to reach for the stars. You are part of a global support system we've built for students who need a spark of curiosity and encouragement to launch their dreams. Together, we're inspiring the next generation of innovators, technology leaders, and change makers here on Earth - and beyond.

    Interested in becoming a volunteer?! Click here to register!

  • Participation Rules

    Like other team activities, FIRST® LEGO® League has basic ground rules. Failure to abide by these rules could result in ineligibility for awards at a tournament or other consequences deemed necessary by Judges, Referees, and Tournament Organizers. Additional rules and awards criteria may be found through the links below.


    • Team members must make all decisions and do all the work on the Robot Game and Project. This includes deciding on strategy, building, programming, researching, choosing a problem and innovative solution, and presenting at a tournament.
      • Anyone who works with the team (Coaches, Mentors, Topic Experts, Parents, etc.) may teach team members new skills, handle logistics for the team, ask questions to get team members thinking, and remind them of the FIRST® LEGO® League rules. Adults play an important role in coaching and supporting their team, but the team’s robot and Project should be the work of team members.


    • A team must have a minimum of two (2) and a maximum of ten (10) children. A team with more than ten (10) children will not be eligible for awards at an official tournament.
    • Children may be members of only one (1) FIRST® LEGO® League team per season.
    • No team member may be outside the maximum allowed age in your region prior to January 1 of the year the Challenge is released.
      • Allowed ages in most countries: 9-16 years
      • Allowed ages in U.S., Canada, and Mexico: 9-14 years
      • For example, in the United States, a student who turns 15 in May of 2016 would be eligible to compete in the Challenge released in August of 2016, whereas a child who turned 15 in December 2015 would not.


    • Each team's robot must be built in accordance with all allowable parts, software and other rules.


    • Teams must demonstrate completion of all three (3) steps of the Project (identify a problem, develop an innovative solution, and share with others) as part of their presentation, and fulfil any other requirements as defined in the annual Project document.


    • All teams must be officially registered and paid before they will be allowed to participate in official tournaments.
    • At a minimum, each team should have two supervising adults responsible for only that team.
    • Teams must participate in the robot performance rounds as well as all three (3) judging sessions (Core Values, Robot Design, and Project) in order to be eligible for any Core Award.
    • All team members present at an event are expected to participate in all three (3) judged sessions, in addition to showing up as a team for the Robot Game.
    • FIRST® LEGO® League expects teams and those associated with the team to uphold and display Core Values at all times, not just during Core Values judging sessions.
    • Only tournament officials (Judges, Referees, and other tournament workers) may direct team members while judging sessions and robot matches are in progress. Any other person instructing, prompting, heckling, or otherwise interfering with a team or tournament worker during judging sessions or robot matches may be asked to leave by tournament officials. In severe cases, these activities may also affect the team’s eligibility for awards and/or participation in the tournament.

  • Judging & Awards

    FIRST® LEGO® League is known around the globe not only for what we do (the Robot Game and Project), but also how we do it, with Core Values at the heart. The rubrics used for judging reflect these three equally important aspects of FIRST® LEGO® League.

    Official tournaments must follow the judging and awards structure determined by FIRST® LEGO® League. Although the audience mostly sees teams playing the Robot Game at tournaments, teams are also being judged on:

    • Core Values
    • Project
    • Robot Design

    The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary are additional tools that may be used to help facilitate discussion in the Core Values and Robot Design Judging sessions at official events. NIHERST will distribute the instructions to teams outlining the information to be included in the Core Values Poster and/or the Robot Design Executive Summary at its events. Please contact us at NIHERST for further information. The Core Values Poster and the Robot Design Executive Summary will be used as part of the judging at World Festival.

    Judging Rubrics
    Award Descriptions

    About Judging

    • Teams must participate in all elements of a FIRST® LEGO® League competition including the Robot Game and all three judged areas in order to be eligible for any Core Award.
    • Judges use the rubrics to help them determine which teams will receive awards.
    • With the exception of the Robot Performance Award, awards are determined by a deliberation process, which is formulated around discussions of team performance in each category.
    • If a team does not exhibit Core Values at a tournament, they may be disqualified from winning any awards – including Robot Performance, no matter how well they scored.
    • Adults are strictly prohibited from directing team members or interfering with the judging process or robot rounds in any way.
    • No team is allowed to win two awards, unless one of the awards is for Robot Performance. Robot Performance is the only category based solely on score.
    • While they may attend other events for fun, teams are only eligible to win awards at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during the season.
  • Judging FAQ
    • How is the Champion's Award determined? Are certain weights used?

      The Champion’s Award recognizes a team that “embodies the FIRST® LEGO® League experience, by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project.” At an official event Judges will look for balanced, strong performance across all three areas; this means that all three judged sessions (Core Values, Robot Design, and Project) are weighted equally to determine the initial group of Champion’s candidates. All candidates must also meet the following requirements:

      1. Robot: The team must score in the top 40% of all teams participating in the Robot Game at the event..
      2. Project: The team must complete all parts of the Project, including the identification of a real world problem related to the Challenge theme, creation of an innovative solution and sharing their research and solution with others, as well as any other season-specific requirements that may exist.
      3. Core Values: The team must adhere to all Core Values throughout the event and the season

      All candidate teams are then reviewed during a deliberative process that considers Robot Performance placement and other qualitative factors. Final determination of the award winner(s) is based on a vote of the full judging panel.

    • Does FIRST® LEGO® League have an official policy on how teams advance to Championships from Qualifiers?

      In accordance with the Participation Rules, teams are eligible for awards and advancement only at the first official event of each qualifying level attended during season. In most cases, event capacity within a region limits team participation to only one qualifying event each season.

      The qualifier advancement policy is based on Champion’s Award criteria. As described above, Champion’s Award criteria require that the team, performs well in all three judged areas (Core Values, Project, and Robot Design). Teams are required to be ranked in the in the top 40% of official Robot Game scores to be considered for Champion’s Award and they must be ranked in the top 75% of official Robot Game scores to be eligible to advance.

      Contact us at NIHERST to find out how many teams will be advancing from the event you are attending. (See the official Advancement Policy).

      It is possible for a team to receive a 1st Place Core Values, Project, or Robot Design Award but not advance to Championship if their Robot Performance score is ranked below the top 75% of teams at the event. A team may win 1st Place in Robot Performance but not advance to Championship due to not having performed well in one or more of the three judged areas.

    • Is it possible to win the Robot Performance Award based on field/game score without doing the Project?

      It is not possible to win the Robot Performance Award without doing the Project. Teams must participate in all 3 judged areas (Project, Core Values and Robot Design) and the Robot Game to be eligible for any Core Awards and Robot Performance is a Core Award. This rule encourages team to embrace the spirit of discovery and focus on all aspects of the Challenge.

    • Can elimination or alliance rounds be used to determine Robot Performance Award?

      The Robot Performance Award recognizes a team that scores the most points during the Robot Game. Teams have a chance to compete in at least three 2.5 minute matches and only the highest score out of the three matches counts. While some events may hold elimination or alliance matches for the excitement and fun, these may not be used to determine the Robot Performance Award. Instead, any awards provided for elimination or alliance matches may only be Local Awards. Note that scores for any alliance or elimination rounds will not be used to determine the Robot Performance bar (at or better than the top 40%) needed to be met for qualifier advancement or Champion's Award consideration.

    • What happens if my team goes past 5 minutes when giving their Project persentation?

      Some Judges may warn the team that they have gone over five minutes, while others will allow the team to finish. In some cases, the tournament may need to keep a very strict time schedule, so Judges will end the presentation at five minutes. If the Judges allow a team to go over five minutes, that may reduce the amount of time Judges have to ask questions and could affect how the Judges assess your team. Your team should practice timing their presentation before the tournament to reduce the chance they will go over five minutes.

    • Can the Coach help the team set up their Project presentation?

      As stated in the Project document, teams should plan a presentation that they are able to set up and break down with no adult help. The coach should refrain from helping the team set up any presentation materials or props. There may be rare instances when a presentation prop or other item is too bulky or heavy for team members to carry. In this instance, some tournaments may allow the coach to assist the team, or the tournament may provide volunteers to move the heavy/bulky item. Check with your tournament organizer before the tournament if you have any questions about tournament policies and procedures.

    • Do tournament directors have the flexibility to create their own judging tools or additional requirements for teams, other than those specified in the Challenge document?

      Each official tournament is held to a set of “Global Standards,” designed to provide a consistent experience for teams attending official events. Some items, including the rubrics, are required to be used by events exactly as provided by FIRST®. Other items may be modified to meet local needs.

      Official tournaments will not have any new or additional requirements, such as a binder or video, other than the required items outlined in the Challenge document, Coaches’ Handbook, and FIRST website.

      Each region may choose to require teams to present a Core Values Poster or Robot Design Executive Summary. In addition, some regions may have completely optional additions that are only used for local awards. These local, optional additions will not be taken into account by the Judges for any Core Awards.

Please keep checking this page for updates

If you have any questions about what is required at your tournament, please feel free to contact us at NIHERST.