The three FLL rubrics are what determines a team's overall ranking in the competition. Although it's important not to get caught up in the scores, because what you learn is more important than you win, it is good to understand each rubric and what is required at the tournament. Many teams often lose valuable points in easy categories by not reading or comprehending the rubrics. Not to fret, your friends over at HighTechHornets have got you covered with a three-part series designed to teach teams the basics of what each rubric means and what you should present at a tournament. This is part 1 of 3, and in this article, we will discuss the project rubric.
Each year, First Lego League publishes a new research topic along with a robot game based around different themes. For months teams are asked to research, talk to experts, design a solution, and present their solution about a problem in the theme topic area. Once all that is complete, teams get a chance to present their presentation and solution to a panel of judges at a regional or state competition! The judges will then score you on a scale from 1 to 4 (1 being the worst and 4 being the best) on how well you presented the information. Below is each category of the rubric and what you will need to do to obtain a 4!
Research: Problem Identification
In the problem identification section, judges are looking for a clear definition of the problem being studied. To obtain the maximum amount of points here, be sure to state your problem clearly and within the first seconds of your presentation. Some years, it will explain in the challenge rule book how to phrase your question so the judges know what to look for. It is also a good idea to create a visual aid to display the name of your project throughout the entirety of the presentation, just in case the judges missed it the first time. Go in depth about how big of a problem it is, who/what the problem is impacting, and what can be done to solve this problem. Use as many details as possible, but be sure to include ALL your required information within the time limit.
Research: Sources of Information
When looking for your sources of information, the judges will look for the number of quality sources you have cited. This includes, but is not limited to, books, magazines, websites, reports along with professionals in the field. Talking to multiple experts is a MUST to obtain full points in this section. Think outside the box and try to include as many different and unique sources as possible, and try not to overlap sources too much! When looking for professionals to interview think of people who are affected or people who are already working to resolve the issue. Learn what they do and how the problem relates to them. Verbally list each professional by name along with websites, articles, and books. It is also a good idea to give the judges a handout of all the research you have done so they can count to make sure you have all 4 types of sources.
Before choosing a topic to research, as yourself: How big of a problem is this? How much information is available on the topic? You and your team will need to become topic experts about your problem and absorb as much information as you can! A good way to do this is to use visual aids such as charts and pictures. This will show the judges you did your own research and came up with the information on your own. Display this information on a poster board and be happy to show off your new found information when the judges ask you questions!
Research: Review Existing Solutions
This category, often confused with "Solution: Innovation", is where you tell how others are already working to improve the problem you are researching. Tell about existing solutions (not necessarily similar to your solution) and what impact they are having. Next, you need to tell the judges about YOUR team's solution. More on this in the next section. After you tell what your solution is, tell how it is different than the previous solutions you listed. Is it similar to any other already existing solutions? If so, what makes it different. A good idea is to research existing patents and discover exactly what the patent is issued for. Stay far away from this method or product and you'll earn full points in this section. List all your research on a poster or handout.
Solution: Team Solution
In order to be considered for an award, your team will need to develop an innovative solution to the problem in which you are researching. Your solution can be tangible or abstract, but make sure it is something different, creative and unique. My suggestion, though not required, is to put your solution into action and see how it is received by the community. This way you can show the judges that your solution has the potential to work if put into production. If your team makes a solution that is tangible, bring the product to the competition and let the judges interact with it. This way, it is easy to understand by all and you will receive full points.
Innovation, as defined by the webster dictionary, is a new idea, device, or method. This is often confused with Research: Review Existing Solutions, and why they are very similar, the judges are looking for two different things. Before, the judges were looking for what RESEARCH you have done to how others are solving the same problem. Innovation is how your team came up with a new way to solve this problem. In your presentation, define who the problem is impacting and how your solution will help reduce the impact on this person or group of persons. Tell how your solution will bring significant value in a new and unique way!
The overall goal of the team solution is to turn your idea into a reality and make an impact on the community. In order to turn your idea into a reality, you'll have to implement it. Like stated above in the "Solution: Team Solution" section, it is a good idea to prototype your solution before the competition to get real world feedback. In order to do this, you will need to calculate the cost, production, distribution, and reviews. Get a steady supply of data analysis in these subject areas and present your research to the judges. Tell how it COULD become a reality, not that it would.
So once you've researched a problem and developed a solution, you need to share that solution! A great way to share your solution is through the internet and social media. Set up a facebook page, twitter profile, or website for your solution idea. This way you can interact with others, earn feedback, all while maximizing your points! Another good idea is to share your solution with the professionals that you talked to during the research stage. They will love to hear what you have accomplished and could offer valuable advice! Last but not least, find a group or club that is affected by the problem, unaware of the problem, or are working to solve the problem. Set up a meeting with them and give the same presentation to them that you will give to the judges. This will count towards the sharing requirement, along with allowing your team to practice in front of a live audience. Two birds with one stone!
No one wants to sit through a boring presentation in which the team talks the entire time, especially the judges. Add some creativity to your presentation and make them remember you! A few ways to do that is to include a song, a dance, a skit, a puppet show, a game show, or video presenting your data. (These are just suggestions, think of something creative as a team, it can be anything!). Be sure to engage the judges in your presentation, this can be by handing them visual aids, having them answer questions, or involving them in an activity. (like a magician!) Careful who you select, some judges aren't as willing to participate as others.
Presentation: Presentation Effectiveness
For months your team has been researching, developing, innovating, and sharing your solution. It is now time to share it with a panel of experienced judges to receive a score. Time is of the essence and you have a lot of information to present in a short amount of time. The order in which you do this is very important, not only to be effective but to make it understandable by all. Start with telling how your team discovered the problem, the impact it has on your team and the community. This is when you need to give your problem identification, sources of information, and problem analysis. Next, move onto your team's solution, implementation, innovation, and review existing solutions. Last but not least tell how you shared your solution and the impact it made. It is also a good idea to make a visual aid such as a trifold board or video. A handout of all the information covered is also a nice addition so the judges can properly evaluate your hard work.