Playing @ Learning Home

NorCalFLL Home


Be An Advocate

About Us

Contact Us

Volunteering for Northern California FLL

FLL tournaments are fast-moving, exciting, and rewarding. One you will remember!

JOIN: Learn about all of our volunteer opportunities
"Volunteer-For-Pal" Googlegroup
Announcement only mailing list to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities

Program Overview  
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international competition that develops critical skills in science and technology in a super-charged learning atmosphere. Small teams of 9 to 14 year olds design, build, program and test an autonomous LEGO Mindstorms robot along with a project developed as a solution to a real world problem developed with experts.

2014 Challenge "FLL World Class"

More details about NorCal FLL District Championships

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Silicon Valley FLL District Championship
Sobrato HS
401 Burnett Avenue
Morgan Hill, CA 95037

Thanks everyone for a great 2014-2015 season!

Join the "volunteer-for-pal" googlegroup to learn about other upcoming FIRST events in Northern California.

The 2015-2016 Trash Trek FLL Season will kickoff in late August. Qualifiers will be November 11/14, 11/15, 11/21 and 11/22. Pencil us in your calendar!

All volunteers, we are using the FIRST VIMS System. You will need to create an account and apply for a specific role at the specific event.

New to VIMS? It is recommended to look/refer to the Step-by-step User guide. Also, there is a FAQ document.

After you apply for a volunteer role for the first time (and you are over 18 years old), you will be asked to complete a background screen.

. You do not have to submit your SSN - just click box below SSN form entry that says, "No SSN".

. Also, you will be asked to help defray the cost of the screening - you can opt out and say no.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Capital FLL District Championship
Inderkum HS
2500 New Market Drive
Sacramento, CA 95835

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Peninsula FLL District Championship
Aragon HS
900 Alameda De Las Pulgas
San Mateo, CA 94402

Additional 2014-2015 Playing At Learning FIRST volunteering opportunities in February and March:

NorCal FTC Championship on Feb 21/22
FTC West Super-Regional Championship on Mar 26-30

Most tournament volunteer roles are needed all day (~7am to ~7pm) - a few can be shared or split into shifts. For those volunteering more than 5 or 6 hours and in a key role, we will feed you delicious food and give you an awesome custom NorCal FLL volunteer tshirt!

Job Descriptions

Judge Training Certification
The "Go To Certification" link shows up on the Left Navigation panel once you are assigned to be a judge in VIMS

Training ID
Core Values Judge
Project Judge
Robot Design Judge
FLL 1 - General Judge Training
FLL 1C - General Judge Certification
FLL 2 - Core Values Judge Training
FLL 2C - Core Values Judge Certification
FLL 3 - Project Judge Training
FLL 3C - Project Judge Certification
FLL 4 - Robot Design Judge Training
FLL 4C - Robot Design Judge Certification


NorCal FLL Volunteer Policies
 FIRST Standards of Conduct for all Volunteers (pdf)

All volunteers must sign a release of liability waiver form

Minors: Anyone under 18 years old must have a parent or legal guardian sign the form and physically turn in the form when they show up to volunteer: English, Spanish

Adults: You can electronically sign the release and consent form via VIMS via Link on Left Navigation banner when you log in to VIMS.


You will get a confirmation email from "" when you are assigned into a role. Please come with a smile and positive outlook!


Help Recruit Volunteers!

HELP SPREAD THE MESSAGE:  Recruitment Poster,   sample letters and more


All Judges and Referees (aka Officials) must be adults (post high school and over 18 years old) that are not affliated with ANY 2014 FLL team - competing at that specific event or not.

Judge, Referee and other Key Role Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form

We are seeking adult volunteers for all types of positions, but can also utilize high school students for most of the general volunteer positions.


For all volunteers, if you have questions : feel free send email to



In Northern California
This 2014 FLL season, approximately 5,300 Nor Cal youth in teams of up to 10 members each will compete at 2 levels of tournaments. The 28 qualifiers will be on Nov 8 - 23. Also, there are 3 championship tournaments.


Dress Code is Casual - you will probably want to wear comfortable shoes. Judges will be sitting for part of the day and walking around talking / observing teams the rest of the day; Referees will be mostly standing and it is preferred that they not wear high heels (to protect the gym floor).

Overview for potential Key volunteers: Recording,  Slides only

Sample Letters from 2011 that you can personalize (.txt)  1, 2, 3, 4  

Please help recruit additional volunteers:   Send emails out using one of the sample letters. Pass this URL along to anyone you think may be interested in volunteering. FLL tournaments are fast-moving, exciting, and rewarding. One you will remember!


    .... But I don't know anything about Engineering or LEGO Robots!?     and other misconceptions

Each event requires many volunteers with a broad spectrum of talents to support teams, volunteers, audience members and competition demands. We cannot hold the competitions without volunteers. A variety of volunteer positions are available including both technical and non-technical. Many positions are available for those with no prior experience with robotics or even similar competitions. Training for judges and referees is available. In particular, the project and core values judges do not need to know anything about robots or LEGO Mindstorms or engineering. The best judges are those that are interested in supporting youth and asking questions. Judging is an interview and observation type of activity very much like at a science fair.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in partnership with The LEGO Company developed this international robotics competition, now in its 12th year. The competition involves students, teachers, mentors and coaches - and this year, this means more than 20,000 teams in over 60 countries will be inspired . Learn more at and


Judges and Referees are the official decision making crew of a tournament, we require that they be adults that are not affiliated with any registered 2014 FLL team - this is why we need you!   These positions do require a couple of hours of training beforehand (self-paced materials plus a short web / phone conference call); you will need to volunteer at the tournament all day through handing out the awards at the award ceremony - approximately 8 hours.

To help the tournament organizers plan these events, please sign up as soon as you can; on the other hand, last minute volunteers are always welcome.  We'd also appreciate your help spreading the word to other potential volunteers.



Why Volunteer?    It's Fun! It's Inspiring!   and it does Make a Difference. FIRST Works!

“FLL enables us to be a player in the community. The kids enjoy it and our employees get a kick out of it as volunteers. The feeling is that we’re all in this together.”    - Tom Pirelli, Chairman, ArialPhone Corporation

"BAE Systems’ involvement in FIRST LEGO League is an essential piece of the company’s commitment to the community and education. I believe it is BAE Systems’ role to help develop a passion for science, mathematics, research, and teamwork within students. They are tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, and engineers."    - Mike Heffron, President Information Warfare, Electronics and Integrated Solutions


Many volunteers are needed to enable the over 5,000 Northern California FLL youth to compete at tournaments and demonstrate what they have achieved! .

Exact tournament times and total number of each volunteer role that is needed will depend on size of tournament.   
To see a description of what the role involves, click on the link - this will bring you to a page of descriptions.

Getting Involved

Like other judging activities such as science fairs, there is a set of criteria also called rubrics (2011 version) that are defined to help evaluate teams. Volunteering for FLL is a great way to get involved to help budding young scientists and engineers launch their careers, as well as to increase the supply of technical professionals that will be available to industry a few years from now. It’s also an easy and fun way to get involved in the community. Additionally, we love when companies step up to host an event, as that has an amazing impact not just on the youth but also on their parents and family.

Almost any adult can be a judge or referee. Among the common concerns or misconceptions:

  • I’m not qualified. For the project and core values judging, most any adult would be able to evaluate the teams in these areas. In addition, judges work in teams and we try to pair experienced judges with rookies. Additionally, any adult with a degree in science, engineering or math should be able to judge teams for robot design. Experience with robotics, software, mechanics or LEGO robots is not required, but is helpful for judging robot design - it is about asking questions and having the team explain what they have done and their reasoning.
  • It’s too hard to learn. As to judges, most tournaments already have a group of experienced judges to help newcomers learn - the FLL program is growing so fast that we always need more. We provide training materials as well as conference calls to answer questions. The referees' role is a bit more complicated - FLL has rules and missions and attention to detail during the fast paced nature of the game is important. There is good training available including both self-paced and conference calls. We recommend referees to try to attend one or more of the informal scrimmages that teams run (typically in October).
  • It’s too big a committment. Tournaments need just a few hours of training ahead of the day, plus the one-time appearance of about 8 hours. While we have a great group of "serial volunteers" and would love to see you again, organizers understand if you can’t make it to multiple events or even every year due to personal committments, travel or work deadlines.
  • It’s too far to go. Nearly all areas throughout California have a nearby tournament (as does Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego). Those who live in the major cities or nearby suburbs should be able to find an event no more than 20 miles away from their home or place of work.


Educational Enrichment Through Play
© 2004, Playing@Learning, All Rights Reserved

Last Updated: 02/08/2015 4:53 PM