Unofficial Rules of FLL (Research Project)

Compiled by Project Bucephalus (Australia) with help from the World Changers (USA)

What makes a good Research Project? For that matter, what makes a good Presentation? We’ll let you know when we find out!

The Research Project is the most open-ended part of the FIRST LEGO League. Project Bucephalus has been doing FLL since 2010 and we think we have a reasonable idea of how things work. However, we are constantly getting new ideas and approaches, and a brilliant approach one season may be completely unsuitable for another. With the aid of the World Changers from Iowa we have compiled a list of suggestions.

These unofficial rules are a little different from the other sections. They work for our team – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do better!

#1: Research the Project.

Even the Project has rules. Read the Project Challenge Guide and understand which subjects are valid!


#2: Don’t Fear the Rubric

In fact, the rubric is a great template for your Research Project. It shows exactly what the Judges are looking for!


#3: Research isn’t boring

…and your Presentation shouldn’t be either. Project Judges will see many performances during a single tournament. Make sure they remember you!


#4: Join the Circus

Presentations can involve music, drama, special effects, gymnastics, dancing, mime, or ANYTHING you can think of.

Be impressive. Be passionate. Be outrageous!


#5: Rocket-powered wheelchairs are cool

Don’t restrict your ideas to “Sensible” solutions.

Sometimes crazy ideas are fun, interesting, and valuable. Just remember to treat them seriously


#6: Start with your passions

Begin your Research in areas where team members are enthusiastic. The results may surprise you!

Stage, sporting field, or great outdoors can all provide unique problems to be solved.


#7: Milk it for all it’s worth

Every team has their own opportunities and perspectives.

Location, Hobbies, Jobs, Contacts – these are all opportunities. Use them in research, solution, or even the presentation!


#8: Never underestimate the power of an idea

Don’t be too quick to dismiss a Project idea.

Many good solutions have come from ideas that initially seemed “lame”, uninspiring, or just a lost cause.


#9: FAQ (and Answers)

The Judges will ask questions: How do you prepare?

Get the team used to being interviewed BEFORE the tournament


#10: The first read-through should always go long

This is a good sign! Yes, you WILL have to cut material, but it’s a sign of good research.

If you have time to spare, go and visit an extra professional or two (or read more books).


#11: 300 Seconds.

…that’s how long you get for your Presentation. Don’t waste a single one.

  • Set the scene and characters in the first few seconds – even if your presentation DOESN’T involve a skit.
  • Go over the script and look for words to remove or shorten.
  • Start strong and be memorable.
  • Rehearse!


#12: Research, Research, Research.

You can never do too much research!

Don’t rely on Google. Include documentaries, articles, books, interviews with professionals, and hands-on experiments.


#13: Escape the obvious.

(This one is a suggestion only…)

“Obvious” subjects will be tackled by lots of teams,  particularly those mentioned in the Game Manual.

Look for something unusual!

Focus on a narrow area rather than an entire field – and then look for a broader application.


#14: Keep it professional.

Involve as many Professionals as possible in your Project.

An emailed list of questions can be just as valuable as a personal interview.


#15: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The closer you are to your tournament, the more likely you are to discover someone has just solved the problem you are researching…or has come up with the same idea!

Don’t let this discourage your team.

Research this new solution as part of your Project


#16: The good project

Understand the purpose of the Innovation Project: Discovery

A good Project will see your team members exploring, learning, and asking questions. Anything else is a bonus.