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We would like to thank everyone who has helped start and continue to grow EARLY.  Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that have been compiled over the seasons.


What is EARLY?

EARLY is a program that exposes our youth to engineering.  EARLY is often used to reference the EARLY Robotics Competition which involves teams of elementary school students competing to complete missions using robots they built from LEGO® Simple & Motorized Mechanisms kits.


How do I join an EARLY team?

As a student, you can join an EARLY team at your school.  If your school does not have an EARLY team, please ask your science teacher to visit to investigate starting an EARLY team.


How old are EARLY team members?

Although some teams may have different guidelines, in general, team members range from 7 to 12 years of age.


How many team members are on an EARLY team?

EARLY teams range from 4 to 10 students.  Coaches often supplement the robot construction with other learning activities.


How do I start an EARLY team?

As a teacher and coach, it is easy to start an EARLY team.  Please visit How to Start an EARLY Team .


How do I find EARLY teams in my area?

EARLY teams can now include their team on the online EARLY Team List so that other teams are aware of their existence along with communicating with them.  This is a new service so please encourage teams to add their team to the list and please be patient as the list becomes populated.  Search features will be included as the list grows.


How do I find an EARLY Tournament in my area?

EARLY tournament organizers can now add their tournament to the EARLY Tournament List so they can publicize their tournament to other teams.  We encourage that all tournament organizers, regardless how small or large, to add their tournament to the list.


Are there any EARLY workshops?

Yes, there are many informal workshops.  EARLY workshop organizers can now add their workshop to the EARLY Workshop List so they can publicize their workshop to others.


How many teams participate in an EARLY Tournament?

Sometimes two teams get together for a match just as sports teams gather for a soccer match or basketball game.  Neighborhood EARLY Tournaments typically have about 10 teams attending.  The larger tournaments, such as Houston’s, have about 40 teams participating.


Where can I find the EARLY Missions?

You can get the EARLY Mission for this season on our current Season page.

Past seasons are located on our Missions page.


What is the role of an EARLY team coach?

The coach is most often a teacher but can also be a mentor or an older student.  The coach has many responsibilities including:  encouraging a team atmosphere, teaching the team the fundamentals of building which can be accomplished by simply having the team complete the LEGO® Simple & Motorized Mechanisms Activities, organizing the construction of the playing field, and organizing the team’s participation at events.  Furthermore, to be a coach, engineering skills are not necessary.


When and how much should my team 'practice'?

Some EARLY teams meet before school, some after school, and some have practices integrated with classroom activities.  Generally, during a six week build period, teams practice a couple times a week.  As the tournament nears though, teams start to feel anxious and thus have a desire to meet more often.  The length of practice often corresponds with the attention span of the team members which is rarely more than 90 minutes.


What does my EARLY team use to build their robot?

EARLY robots, by rule, can only be made from 3 LEGO® Simple & Motorized Mechanisms Kits.  You can buy the kits directly from LEGO® Education.  If you purchase four Simple & Motorized Mechanisms kits, product # W779686, along with one Simple & Motorized Mechanisms Activity Pack, product # W209686, you will have everything you need to build an EARLY robot, the EARLY mission elements, along with the curriculum to use the kits in the classroom.  EARLY rules state that the LEGO® can not be modified nor can they be glued together; this ensures that the kits can be used for the following season.


What computer experience is needed for an EARLY team?

None.  Although motorized, there is no programming involved with EARLY robots.  The robot motors are operated by the pilots using basic on/off switches that come with the Motorized Simple Machines kits.  In future programs, such as FIRST LEGO® League and Botball, programming by the teams is required.


How much does an EARLY team cost?

An EARLY team costs about $600 to start but since the kits can be reused, sustaining a team is very inexpensive.  Grants are a great way to get started.


How much does a Neighborhood EARLY Tournament cost?

All that is necessary to host a small tournament is a facility, such as a classroom, gym, or cafeteria, and a playing field which is often supplied by the visiting teams.  Therefore, a tournament can be very inexpensive.


When are the EARLY seasons?

The fall season begins in mid-September with the release of the EARLY mission.  Fall tournaments are often held in November and early December.  The spring season begins in mid-February with the release of the mission and tournaments are typically held in April and early May.  These are the formal seasons but many organizations use past missions to conduct summer programs or get an early start.


What awards can teams win at a competition?

It is up to the tournament director to determine the awards that are given at an event.  For example, at the Houston Tournament, there are five awards given (champion, finalist, design, spirit, and sportsmanship awards) along with medallions  for each participant.  Trophies are often made from the mission pieces by the tournament. 


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