Unofficial Rules of FLL (Core Values)

Compiled by Project Bucephalus (Australia)

The FLL Core Values should permeate the season. They provide an outline of HOW an FLL team is supposed to approach the entire FLL experience. At a tournament, the team is judged on how well they understand and apply these values.

The Core Values judging session consists of a teamwork challenge and an interview. It is probably the most secretive element of an FIRST LEGO League tournament. After all, everyone gets to see the Robots operate, and most teams are more than willing to share their Project with anyone that is interested. However, the Core Values judging session is not open to the public, and the teamwork challenge is supposed to remain secret!

So how should a team approach the Core Values (and judging session)? Project Bucephalus has developed their own approach over the years, with Rules that help them to showcase their ability to work as a team. Whilst these Rules may not work for everyone, they do provide an excellent starting point!

#1: Read the Core Values

Reading them is good. Understanding them is better. Make the Core Values part of your team!


#2: Practice

We’re sure there are teams (somewhere) made up of children that just naturally work together.

We’re not one of those teams.

For us, building an effective team takes time. We practice with Core Values activities every meeting. They’re fun and challenging, and our coach enjoys coming up with difficult tasks that make us think. We also practice answering questions about what we’ve done with Core Values this season – just to get used to the idea of a judging session!


#3: Little ones in Front!

“Size Matters Not” – but with mixed-age teams in particular, it’s very easy for the older/larger team members to crowd out their smaller comrades. Whenever Project Bucephalus is in a judging session, we make sure that our vertically challenged members are visible and involved!


#4: Sit on your hands

This directive is to be taken literally!

When faced with a teamwork challenge, the critical first step is for a team to stand back and talk/plan BEFORE anyone takes action. Sitting on hands is a fantastic reminder for those whose enthusiasm can get the better of them.


#5Structure Matters

Every team has a structure – even a complete lack of one!

Used properly, a team structure can make the teamwork challenge easier. We encourage teams to experiment to discover out what works for them. As a starting point, we suggest the following options:

  • Democracy: The team gets in a huddle and everyone gets a say. A vote determines the result. Some teams have a Captain leading the discussion, others operate on group consensus.
  • Subgroups: The team is made up of groups of 2-3 students. Each subgroup quickly discusses an issue and then reports a summary back to the group.
  • Masters and Apprentices: Each senior/experienced member is responsible for a younger/rookie member.
  • Traditional: The team has a captain (and sometimes a vice-captain) who leads the group.


#6: Perspective

Understand the purpose of the teamwork challenge ..

The judges won’t care that your team spent 5 minutes sorting through a pile of LEGO so you could build a green turtle instead of a pink-and-yellow one with a brown head. Nor that your team spent 10 minutes debating the merits of a pet Dodo over a tame T-Rex. And definitely not that your marshmallow tower has a 3-degree lean to the left.

Of far more importance is how the team arrived at a plan, and how well they worked together to implement it. 

It’s better to fail as a team rather than succeed because a single person did all the work.


#7: Beware the Traffic Jam

It can get crowded when multiple team members try to guide the team in multiple directions at once. Train your team to recognise a Traffic Jam and step back (See Rule #4) before things get out of control. This applies to the Teamwork Challenge as well as ANY judging interview.

Not only will this give a team another shot at a successful result, but it will display the team’s maturity and unity to the watching judges.


#8: It’s a Trap!

Either that, or just a cunning judge!

Picture these scenarios:

  • Our coach gives us 2 min to sort LEGO bricks by colour from a huge pile. When done, he asks us to put the pieces back…
  • The team completes a teamwork challenge, then our coach calls us to sit down. But there aren’t enough seats for everyone…
  • The challenge: sort pictures of comic book Superheroes by date of first publication. The solution: a “best guess” by the team after serious discussion. The coach then gives the correct answers, and watches the reactions of the team members.

What do you do with a team that completes the teamwork challenge perfectly, but then leaves one person to do the cleaning up? Or races to be the first to get a seat? Or issues blame for incorrect results?

The teamwork challenge is a good way to demonstrate a grasp of Core Values. But it doesn’t end there. Keep being a team even when the challenge is over!


#9: Remove pollution

Team members should take a moment to gather themselves before ANY judging session. Put aside any irritation with team members (even siblings!), frustrations with robot performance, or other distractions. It’s easy to work as a team if you are united and focused!


#10: Location, Location, Location

During a Teamwork challenge, each team member should be aware of their position. If you’re not in a place to be involved, MOVE!

Be in a position to help your team, and you will find a way to do so.


#11: Watch the clock

An entire Core Values session lasts only 10 minutes, so teams should try to maximise their interview time. Be concise! Team members should practice outlining ideas or plans quickly. The team Captain (if there is one) should also be able to keep an eye on time passing and direct the team accordingly.


#12: Mean It

These rules are designed to help teams prepare for a Core Values judging session, and therefore give a better chance of showcasing what they can do.

That’s not enough to do well. The Core Values are supposed to define a team’s entire approach to the season, not just something you string together for a single judging session.

Build the Core Values into your team!