Team Information for City Shaper Season


National Registration for City Shaper is open. Find the details here:!  The National Registration Fee ($225/team) will be un-bundled from the Field Setup Kit (Game Mission Models and Mat) this season ($75). Each team will be able to decide if they want to purchase the FSK or not. National Registration Fees are still required to register a team of up to 10 students aged 9-14 for competition.   If you experience difficulty registering or completing your National registration, screening coaches, etc, please contact FIRST technical support at (603) 666-3906 or (800) 871-8326. 

National Registration Updates:  Get the most up to date info on National registration which is now open here
If you experience difficulty registering or completing your National registration, screening coaches, etc, please contact FIRST technical support at (603) 666-3906 or (800) 871-8326. 

Illinois team registration opens July 15, 2019.  Details can be found here:
Teams planning to compete at a Qualifier in Illinois will need to pay the $150/team Illinois Registration Fee by October 15th, 2019. Additionally, only teams advancing to State Championships will have a $100/team fee (new this season). We have added this per team State Championship Fee to help us offset rising costs of the State Championship events. Please remember to set your annual team budget accordingly. 

Qualitying Tournament Selection: For your planning purposes, we anticipate the vast majority of Qualifiers in Illinois will be bunched into two weekends this year: December 7th/8th and December 14th/15th. Please consider this when making plans for your teams. Because the dates will be so limited, we will be asking teams to select 4 Qualifiers they are able to attend (instead of 3 in seasons past). The Illinois Qualifier Event List will become available this July, subject to changes. 

City Shaper Field Mat:  If you have seen pictures of the City Shaper season robot game board you may have noticed that the field looks smaller. Well, that's because it is! The mat for the robot game is shorter this year, but table size is unchanged. Let me repeat that: FIRST LEGO League table size is unchanged even though the mat is shorter. Those who have seen the game and mat have described the mat as feeling more plastic-like than fabric-like in season's past and there is a lot of hope that these new mats will perform better (lay flatter, less friction, etc). We will see!

Struggling to Find a Team? TeamUP App is Live:
Does your team need an extra student? Do you know a student who wants to join a team?  We have a new tool to help individuals find each other to form a team!   It is called TeamUP.   Help others find a team, form a team, or recruit for their team here. Registration is required, but it is free.   

Happy Father's Day 
Who helps make our teams so great? Dads do. We are wishing all the Team Dads out there a very happy Father's Day! Thank you for being the rock stars of robotics!! Hope your day starts this great:

July International Opens
We have two events next month and we want to wish good luck to all the Illinois teams participating: 
July 4-7 Australia International Open:
Team 244 Fuzzy Pi, Batavia, IL

July 12-14 Mountain State International Open in Fairmont, WV:
Team 30724 TechKnow Fury, Schaumberg, IL
Team 18155 SWAT!, Troy, IL
Team 245 Professor Tsunami Bots - A Space Odyssey, Batavia, IL

We wish you all every success and hope to share in some of the wonderful memories you make (please post some pictures or your stories to our Facebook Group)!   Teams can talk to us on Facebook here: FIRST LEGO League Illinois / FIRST Illinois Robotics Group

Peoria Kickoff and Coach Training August 24th at Bradley 
August 24th Kickoff and Coach Training in Peoria is set. Your team must register at the bottom of this page to attend. Check back for Naperville and Evanston Coach Training dates which are currently TBD. 

Programming Sessions for City Shaper Season
There will be a Programming Basics Webinar to help teams get started with programming their robots!  The online class will be hosted by Matt Birkel and Abhijit Patkar.  Matt participated in FLL in 2005-2007, during which he had the opportunity to compete in the Open European Championships and win the Programming Award.  Abhijit is a coach of the Dunlap Decoders, who won the 2nd Place Champion's Award at Tesla in 2018 and 2016, with a strong performance in the programming category each year.

This introductory class is targeted for people who are completely new to programming LEGO robots, but it is also helpful for veteran teams who are interested in learning more about using basic sensors.  This year, separate sessions will be offered for learning EV3 Programming or Python.  For each class, the only pre-requirements are (1) you have the appropriate programming software installed on your computer, and (2) you have a basic robot with two drive wheels to use for the in-class lab exercises.  The class is targeted towards both coaches and students.

There will be four sessions:

  • EV3 Programming - Wednesday, September 18th from 5-7PM
  • EV3 Programming - Saturday, September 21st from 1-3PM
  • Python - Tuesday, September 24th from 5-7PM
  • Python - Saturday, September 28th from 1-3PM

Please use this form to sign up for a Programming Session

Once you have been assigned a session, Matt and Abhijit will send you more information, including a link to the webinar.

If you have any additional questions, please send them to Matt at and Abhijit at  Thanks!

Table Wall Heights
Illinois plans to use 2.5" nominal wall heights for all State Championship Tournaments this season. Teams attending their local Qualifier may encounter tables with wall heights between 2.5" and 3.5". Your team should design and build a robot for competition that is able to utilize a table with any wall heights specified within the table build instructions. 
FIRST Table Building Instructions


In case you missed it: 

ARCO Murray / Bike Ride for the Kids Financial Hardship Grants for Teams OPEN NOW

We have an Illinois Team Grant that is now open for applications. Complete the application here:
You can find more information about it on our website here:
Last day to apply is September 15, 2019, but applications will begin being reviewed August 1. 
If you would like learn more about the Sponsors of this grant, check out their websites: https://www.arcomurray.com

FIRST National Registration Fees Hardship Grant Application OPEN NOW
Teams must be registered Nationally for the City Shaper season. 
They must have financial hardship. 
They must NOT have paid their National Registration fees yet.
Apply here:

Fundraising 101
FIRST has tools your team can use to raise money. These tools and concepts apply equally no matter what level of FIRST your team is part of. Check them out here:

Two Volunteers Per Team
Faced with unprecedented growth, our organization needs teams to step up their volunteer game this season. We are asking each team to please recruit two adult volunteers to help at either a Qualifier or one of the three State Championship Tournaments this year. We are hoping that one of the 2 volunteers you find will be excited to step up as a new judge or referee (trained volunteer role). We will have additional information about this new ask of teams as the season gets started, so stay tuned! 

Chat with us on Facebook here: FIRST LEGO League Illinois / FIRST Illinois Robotics Group

SPIKE Prime will not be ready for shipping until early 2020. If your team is impacted by this, please follow the instructions in the email you received from LEGO in order to make changes to your order. 

Know someone who would like to become a FIRST LEGO League coach or just know what's happening in Illinois? Have them sign up to our mailing list !

Have you heard about the new FIRST LEGO League approved platform SPIKE Prime? Check it out here:

Check out FIRST RISE 2020 if you haven't already. 



Team Information for INTO Orbit Season...

Elevator Pitch Contest

We have an exciting new contest this season and your team can win big! Please see all the details in this flyer and watch the contest video for how to participate!

Challenge Updates Released 11/5/18
Challenge Updates to the Robot Game are released. Remember teams are responsible for knowing the Challenge updates and should be checking for any at each team meeting.
Please refer to the Updates page here:  Robot Updates

Consent Forms:

FIRST Illinois Robotics is requiring each team complete a Consent Release form for each student, coach and volunteer attending (NO EXCEPTIONS – Participation is contingent on submitted consent before the opening ceremonies).

Coaches and team members have 2 forms to complete on 2 separate websites:

  1. FIRST National Website - Go to this link for details
  2. FIRST Illinois Robotics Website - 

Illinois Consent Form directions for coaches

Illinois Consent Form directions for guardians 

Illinois Consent Form (English)  

Illinois Consent Form (Spanish) HERE

Teams are required to complete these forms online prior to arriving at the tournament and submit the consent report during their on-site registration.  Paper consent forms can be turned in during registration for any participant not included in the online consent report, if necessary. Proof of consent of all participates must be provided at check in BEFORE a team will receive its tournament information packet.

Consents for FIRST National and Illinois
Please be sure that all of the National consent forms and Illinois consent forms for all your team members are complete online before your tournament. If you must use paper copies for your students, please bring them with you to the tournament to turn in. If you have electronic consent forms, all you will need to do is verbally confirm that all your consent forms are complete online. This is the Coach's responsibility and will be governed by the the honor system. PLEASE DO NOT PRINT COPIES OF YOUR ELECTRONIC CONSENTS. This will create untold amounts of paper hassle-work. If your consents are all complete online, all you have to do is tell the registration check-in person that your consents are "complete online". You do not need to provide printed proof. They will ask you if your National consents are complete online and your Illinois consents are complete online. You can simply say yes, to each question if they are all complete online. If you have some online, and some are paper, tell them at registration that you have the rest completed online and submit your remaining paper ones upon check in. Again, please do not print your electronic consent forms.

Illinois Team Information Sheet

The Team Information Sheet is HERE

The Team Information Sheet (Fillable) is HERE

Teams, please bring three copies of this completed document to your qualifiying tournament.  One copy will go to each of the three sets of judges: Core Values, Robot Design, and Project.  The Judges see many kids and teams during the day, so the Team Information Sheet will help them identify everyone, as well as learn some important facts about your team. 

Practice Playing Field(s)  

Many tournaments provide access to a practice field where teams take turns running matches with their robot.  If a field is provided, scheduling is often tight, and teams may need to reserve a time slot to practice.  

Practice Table Missions:  Each qualifying tournament will have two practice tables available for teams.  The field set up kits used for the practice tables are on loan from teams that are attending the qualifier.  In the past it has been our experience that many of the loose mission pieces are lost or misplaced during the qualifiers, and teams are understandably reluctant to provide their field set up kits.  To reduce the likelihood of losing mission pieces FIRST Illinois Robotics has decided that only the mission pieces that are attached to the tables with Velcro will be provided at the practice tables.  Every team attending a qualifier will have to bring the loose mission pieces to the tournament for their own use at the practice tables.

Bring Loose Mission Models to your tournament to use on the practice tables! Your team must bring all loose mission models from your own team table to use at the practice tables at the tournament. You do not need to bring your entire field. As a matter of fact, most tournament coordinators will not allow you to bring your own field. You will need to use the practice tables provided. But ALL TEAMS NEED TO BRING THEIR LOOSE FIELD ELEMENTS to use on the practice table.


New! Robot Design Summary Pages

This may sound like the Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES), which is optional in Illinois, but these three pages are a completely new tool for teams to use this season. These pages were created to assist teams who are opting in to the Programming Pilot, but they are a great idea for all teams to use!  Click HERE to download. (MSWord Doc)  

Need to Acknowledge Robot Design Idea Inspiration Sources
We have received several questions asking to what extent teams are allowed to use some of the very detailed resources such as robot building instructions or robot game mission strategies created by third-parties and that are available in books and online.

Doing research for the robot game should be viewed very similarly to doing research for the project. Reading books, visiting websites, watching videos, and talking to "experts" are all great things to help inspire teams. But just like the project, teams are expected to both recognize the sources for their ideas and explain which parts of their ideas come from the work of others and which parts represent the team's own ideas. If your team uses plans to build their robot or a strategy to complete robot game missions that originated from outside the team (ie: something the team found on a website), then the team should both acknowledge where they got their ideas and explain what they did to change/improve upon those ideas when in robot design judging.

Teams should always strive to make their robot and missions "their own," and should always keep the core value of "Innovation" in mind whether working on the project or robot game! We hope teams have a great Into Orbit season exploring problems related to space travel. If teams have any questions about the judging process in Illinois please contact Illinois Head Judge Kyle Blais at

Orbit Software Platform Pilot

Our region is participating in a pilot to open the software rule for the 2018 INTO ORBIT season.  FIRST LEGO League is responding to interest from the community to be able to use software other than MINDSTORMS EV3, NXT, or RCX to program robots for FIRST LEGO League tournaments. 

Special, pilot-region-only Robot Game Updates (HERE) will apply in our region, in addition to the Challenge Updates posted on

Teams may use any software they choose - see the updated rule R07 below. Note that R05 precludes the use of any software that requires tethering to a computer while the missions are being run. Teams who choose to use software other than official MINDSTORMS software do so at their own risk.

There are many software solutions available for programming the LEGO MINDSTORMS. LEGO will provide limited technical support for Microsoft MakeCode for EV3 ( Any other software that is compatible with LEGO MINDSTORMS and does not violate other FIRST LEGO League rules may be used in competition, but they are NOT supported by LEGO.  Support for other software must come from the developers of that software.  Some software options require internet access; be aware that many tournaments may not have have reliable public internet access.  We recommend bringing your own mobile hotspot if you will require internet access at your event.

All teams should be prepared to describe their programs to Judges who may not be familiar with the programming language the team used.  Teams are encouraged to use the new Robot Design Summary worksheet (Click HERE to download) to help document and explain their programs for Judges. 

At the end of the season, FIRST Illinois Robotics will ask all teams who choose alternate software to complete a survey to send in feedback about your experiences.  You’re welcome to email during the season to share too.

If you have questions about the software pilot, contact your FIRST LEGO League Partner Sara Lubic at or email or

Reformatted Core Values Rubrics Pilot 2018-2019 Illinois Rules

The FIRST Illinois region is participating in a newly announced pilot using Reformatted Rubrics with revised language to the Core Values rubric for the 2018-2019 INTO ORBITSM season.  Here in Illinois we will be using different Rubrics from the ones you will find on FIRST LEGO League websites.  The updated rubrics are primarily REFORMATTED to make judging easier and to ideally improve the quality of comments given to teams. The Core Values REFORMATTED Rubric aligns with the new FIRST Core Values and includes the following changes:

  • Updated language for rows in all three award areas
  • Inspiration
    • Team Spirit replaced by Team Identity
    • Integration replaced by Impact
  • Gracious Professionalism
    • Respect and Inclusion combined into one row
    • New row added for Fairness and Integrity

While the update to the Core Values Rubric may shift what teams share with Judges, we do not expect it to have much impact on the work teams are doing throughout the season, guided by the FIRST Core Values.

The Reformatted Rubrics are not expected to have any impact on how teams complete their work.   You can download your copies of the New Reformatted Rubrics for the Illinois Into Orbit Season here:

Robot Design Rubric 2018 (pdf)

Project Rubric 2018 (pdf)

Core Values Rubric 2018 (pdf)

Core Value Poster

In the FIRST Illionis region, teams are not required to prepare a Core Values Poster to present during their Core Values judging sessions at qualifying tournaments.  However, FIRST Illionis Robotics will be requiring teams that compete in one of the State Championships this season to complete the Core Values Poster.  Please follow the updated Core Values Poster guidelines that correspond with the pilot Core Values Rubric when constructing your Core Values Poster.  HERE is the link to the poster.  HERE is the link to what is new on the Core Values Rubric.  

At Qualifiers, we see the poster as a good way to organize your experiences into the poster. Judges will not be reviewing these at the Qualifiers, but teams can and should display their Core Values Poster in their pit and answer any questions from other teams or individuals who ask them about it.  If teams have a poster, we encourage them to bring it into the judging session at the qualifier.  Judging instructions will be that judges should not specifically direct questions to teams about their poster (should they have one), however a team that has a poster with them may use the poster when answering questions.  For instance, say the judges ask "can you tell us how your FIRST LEGO League experience impacted your team" - the students might respond - "as you can see on our poster - we show that ...." and go on to give an answer that way.  Some judges will also ask questions such as "is there anything else you would like to tell us about your team" and a team might use a question like that to discuss their core values poster or some of the information on it.  The core values poster will be utilized by core values judges for ALL teams that compete at the state championship events, not only during the "call-back" process.  These questions will take place in the team pit area at State.

If you have questions about the updated rubrics, please contact your FIRST LEGO League Partner Sara Lubic at or email” If you have specific questions about judging in Illinois, please contact Illinois Head Judge Kyle Blais at


Engineering Notebook

Did you know that FIRST has created an Engineering Notebook set of work pages for FIRST LEGO League teams to use this season? Be sure to check it out! We think this is a great tool for all teams to use this season! Hint: you can use more than one set of these!   Click HERE for the notebook  


Details about how your team can interact with NASA:

NASA experts are hosting online talks about the challenges of human travel to deep space on Tuesdays at 2:00 pm ET through mid-December. Access past recordings and tune in to the live broadcasts here  and click here to see the topic schedule.


Space Insights Videos
Experts from the European Space Agency (ESA) created videos about a variety of interesting space topics like gravity, working in space, and robots on the moon for teams as they work on their Project research. Check out the playlist



It's not too late to sign up to volunteer at the tournament you are getting ready for. Many Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Team Parents, and Mentors can help make their Qualifier great by signing up to help out! Send a message offering to help your Tournament Coordinator if they need it and help demonstrate to our teams how Gracious Professionals are all around us!