FIRST LEGO League Coach and New Team Workshops

See the following workshops and training opportunities for current or prospective coaches of Maryland FIRST LEGO League teams.  Most of these events are free but registration/RSVP requested.

For a listing of Summer STEM Camps in Maryland and vicinity, see our STEMaction listing.

Wednesday, June 24 – FLL Coach Best Practice Discussion 6:30 pm – 8 pm Thingstitute, 29 Courthouse Square, Rockville, MD 20850 Please RSVP to Milka Piszczek [] with the following information: 1. Name and how long you have been a part of FLL 2. What was your role (i.e. coach, mentor, parent, etc.) 3. What topics would you like to discussed/addressed

Saturday, July 11 – New Coach EV3 Programming Workshop 1 pm – 5 pm Thingstitute, 29 Courthouse Square, Rockville, MD 20850 RSVP to Milka Piszczek []

Thursday, July 16 – FLL Information Night/EV3/NXT Programming Workshop St. Annes School of Annapolis, 6 pm – 8 pm RSVP to Dana Aucoin []

Wednesday, July 29 - FLL Coaching workshops 6-8 pm Mt Airy Library, 705 Ridge Avenue, Mt Airy An open meeting to introduce the FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics competition to interested adults.  A short overview of the program and how 4th-8th grade students get involved on teams of 5-10 students for the fall-winter season will begin at 6 pm.  From 6:30-7:30, experienced team coaches will provide more detail on what is involved in running teams.  We will end with time for networking and discussion for those actively looking to start or join teams, and coaches can get assistance with registration.  No experience is necessary, and all are welcome to stay to find out about the program with no obligation or cost. Contact Rose Young with any questions and to RSVP

Saturday, August 8 - Coach & Team Members EV3 Programming with Sensors Clinic Saint Thomas More Academy, 9 am – 3 pm Cost $35, includes lunch StThomas More Lego Clinic Overview Aug8-2015 Contact Elizabeth Renninger at to register

Saturday, August 15, FLL Coaches and Parents workshop Greenbelt MakerSpace, 10-4pm The workshop is free, and we will supply programming laptops and robot kits. Last year we supported 4 in-house teams, and teams at several other nearby schools. Please visit the website to reserve a seat.

Thursday, August 20 - FLL Coaching workshops 6-8 pm Eldersburg Library, 6400 Hemlock Drive, Eldersburg See description and contact info for July 29 FLL Coaching workshop

Wednesday, August 26 - FLL Coaching workshops 6-8 pm Eldersburg Library, 6400 Hemlock Drive, Eldersburg See description and contact info for July 29 FLL Coaching workshop

Wednesday, September 2, FIRST Information Night JHU Applied Physics Lab, Laurel — Building 1 Cafeteria Information night for new coaches, mentors and volunteers for FIRST teams and events in Maryland. Teams from all four FIRST programs featured. FREE with registration:

FTC Android/Java Training Info

For those of you that may not know, FTC is transitioning into a new platform next year.  Teams will switch from using the NXT LegoMindstorm to using a ZTE Speed cell phone.  The Field Control System will no longer run on a laptop that connects to the four robots on the field, but each team will bring a second cell phone to the field that connects to the cell phone on the robot.  Game controllers will be attached to the second cell phone and will allow the students to communicate with the cell phone on the robot using WiFi Direct. One way to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed is to be informed.  FIRST has provided a forum to keep us informed and to provide teams a way to help each other through the transition.  The Kit Of Parts is just becoming available, but learning Java is another large part of the transition and it can done now! The following forum post discusses a lot of FREE resources that can help: Most of the resources listed in the forum post are self-directed.  If you prefer an instructor-directed approach, then your local community college may have the answer.  Some have classes on the campus, but many also offer on-line courses.  For example, the College of Southern Maryland offers two on-line courses this summer.  The beginning level course is a 6 week on-line course that begins May 13 and is geared to those that have had no prior programming experience.  The intermediate course is also a 6-week on-line course and it begins July 15.  The courses are $131 each.  CSM requires an additional fee if you do not live in Charles, St. Mary’s or Calvert.  There are many other community colleges in Maryland that may offer a Java class over the summer.

The following link describes how to enroll in the course through CSM.  The courses are offered in conjunction with a college, so CSM handles payment and account access.

The following link describes the introductory course.  It is offered on June 17 and August 12 in addition to the May 13 start date, but to complete both the introductory and intermediate classes before FTC kick-off in September, I suggest taking it starting May 13.  According to the CSM webpage, registration closes when the class starts.

The following link describes the intermediate course.  It also has an optional start date of July 15

These courses teach Java…we can start learning how Java pertains to FTC robots when the FTC SDK is released and the KOP is available.

Enjoy this learning experience and your summer!

[Thanks to Lydean Spangler for this post]



Baltimore Robotics Expo, May 16

Baltimore City Public Schools and STEMaction are hosting a Baltimore Robotics Expo on May 16, 2015 from 9am – noon at Baltimore International Academy (4410 Frankford Avenue, Baltimore).  The event will feature some of this season’s teams engaged in robotics challenges and will include information about starting FIRST LEGO League and Jr.FLL teams in Baltimore City Public Schools.  2015 BRX Flyer

Maryland VISTAs Wanted!

VISTA logoWe are looking for Americorps VISTA candidates to help bring FIRST programs to more students and underserved communities in Maryland. The VISTA program is a great way to get involved or give back to the FIRST community.  It’s a full-time commitment for a year with a minimal stipend, but it pays big dividends for yourself and the community.

One posting is already open for a VISTA in Baltimore to support initiatives within Baltimore City Public Schools, particularly for FIRST LEGO League and Junior FIRST LEGO League.  We would like to fill this position as soon as possible to have someone on-board over the summer to prepare for the new season.

We can potentially open a second posting anywhere in Maryland for the right candidate.  We would especially love to have a FIRST alum, volunteer or mentor willing to commit to a year of service.  We have a track record of success with recent alums taking a gap year before college, FIRST alums coming out of college looking to build careers, and retirees looking for a great opportunity to keep them active and engaged.  If you have interest, please contact us at

Maryland Teams at 2015 FIRST Championship

Congratulations and Good Luck to all the Maryland teams headed to the FIRST Championship in St. Louis April 22-25.  This year once again marks our biggest contingent of teams ever — a total of 16 teams making the trip along with 5 Dean’s List Award Finalists, in addition to a bevy of great volunteers.  Make that 17 teams — there’s also Team 418 SWAT Bots from Annapolis going to the Jr.FLL World Festival Expo.

Maryland Teams at 2015 FIRST ChampsThis year features 8 fields of FIRST Robotics Competition action in the Edward Jones Dome, along with FIRST LEGO League teams  competing in the America’s Center adjacent to the Dome.  Four fields of FIRST Tech Challenge and a Junior FIRST LEGO League Expo will bring excitement to Union Station.

Keep track of all the action via webcasts — check here for links to feeds from the Dome and Union Station.  Get more detail from the Championship page for each FIRST program:

Maryland STEM Festival Kickoff

Vertical Logo ColorThe inaugural Maryland STEM Festival will be held November 6-15, 2015.  A kickoff press conference was held at the Maryland Science Center.

STEMaction, our Maryland non-profit that supports FIRST and other great STEM activities, is a founding partner for the Maryland STEM Festival.  This new annual Festival is a great way to get the word out to your local communities about the work Maryland’s FIRST teams are doing to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.  We encourage Maryland FIRST teams of all levels and ages to consider hosting or participating in an event.  See this flyer (MDSTEM-Fest-FIRST-team-flyer.pdf) for some ideas of different types of events you can hold.

FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League Championship Results

20150228 13-30-20 IMG_9468cLast weekend was perhaps the busiest ever in Maryland FIRST history.  Due to the snowstorm the previous weekend, we held both the 2015 Maryland FIRST Tech Challenge Championship and the 2015 FIRST LEGO League Championship on Saturday, Feb. 28. In all, more than 1,100 students on 120 teams and 400 volunteers were in action.  We thank the entire Maryland FIRST community for your help and support.

MDFTC15-618The Maryland FIRST Tech Challenge Championship at the JHU Applied Physics Lab in Laurel featured 32 top middle and high-school teams playing this season’s Cascade Effect game. Click here for a full summary of the event. Congratulations to the seven teams advancing to the FTC East Super-Regional in Scranton, PA on March 19-21.

20150228 17-58-28 MC-IMG_9815sAt UMBC, 72 of our best FIRST LEGO League teams (grades 4-8) gathered for the culmination of the “World Class” season.  More than 40 awards were presented, including the 1st Place Champions Award to Team 9764 TechWeb.  We also held a great Jr.FLL Expo (grades K-3) with more than 20 teams showing off their “Think Tank” work.  See lots of great photos at our Maryland FIRST Gallery.

Maryland FIRST Championships Time!

13748988135_71245c0f99_zWant to see what FIRST is all about? Want to see the culmination of months of hard work for hundreds of great kids, teams and mentors? Want to join in the excitement and fun of cheering on your favorite teams?

Make plans to attend our 2015 Maryland FIRST Championship events.  All events are free and open to the public.  Register for one of our FIRST Stop tours with a student or adult ambassador to learn more about FIRST and how you can get involved.  Download a flyer: 2015-Maryland-FIRST-Championships-Invitation-r.pdf.

2015 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff on 1/3/15

Working on a FIRST botThe 2015 FIRST Robotics Competition season kicks off on January 3, 2015.  You can join us in Maryland at Capitol Technology University (formerly Capitol College, 11301 Springfield Road, Laurel, MD 20708) at 10:00am.  You can also watch the Kickoff online courtesy of Comcast starting at 10:30am.

High school FRC teams receive their 2015 Kit of Parts and see this year’s game for the first time at the Kickoff.  Then they have 6 weeks to design, build and test their robot before coming to competitions including the 2015 Chesapeake Regional at the University of Maryland Xfinity Center on April 2-4.

Come and be part of the excitement!

FRC Education Day, Oct. 25, 2014

The Batlimore Area Alliance of FRC teams will host an FRC Education Day on Saturday, October 25th at the JHU Applied Physics Lab in Laurel.  The Education Day offers both engineering and non-engineering training workshops for students and mentors to help prepare them for the upcoming FRC season.  Rookies and veterans alike from all Maryland and DC FRC teams are invited to attend.  A sample of workshop topics includes:

  • Electricity And Wiring 101 With 2015 Control System
  • Pneumatics 101
  • Motors 101
  • Drive Train /Chassis 101
  • Manipulators /Sensors 101
  • Java
  • LabView
  • Design Principles
  • Autodesk
  • Youth Protection Program
  • Team Sustainability
  • Use of 3?D Printer Parts in FRC Robots
  • Team Image and Branding
  • Fundraising
  • Scouting
  • Inspection

Event details and registration information follows: BAA Education Day (Training workshops) Who: MD and DC FIRST FRC Teams What: Engineering and non-engineering workshops to prepare mentors and students for the upcoming FIRST FRC season When: Saturday, October 25, 2014 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM Location: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Kossiakoff Center 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel, MD 20723 Why: Learn best practices from FRC veterans for having a fun and successful FIRST FRC team!

Register online NOW at Fee: $5.00 (pay at the door; includes lunch)

Schedule of Events (Subject to change, updated September 20th, 2014)

Questions? contact us at