FIRST Programs Challenge Students to Discover the Wild World of Animals

FIRST®LEGO®League and FIRST®LEGO®League Jr. Task More than 300,000 Children Worldwide to Think About How People and Animals Work Together

MANCHESTER, N.H., August 31, 2016 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international, K-12 not-for-profit organization founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, announced that the 2016-2017 FIRST® LEGO® League and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. seasons task students with improving how animals and humans learn from and interact with and help one another.

“There’s so much we can learn from animals,” says Gretchen Hooker, Project Specialist, Design Challenges, Biomimicry Institute. “When we think of challenges we have to solve in our world, you can often find an analogy looking at the natural world.”

For the FIRST LEGO League ANIMAL ALLIESSM and FIRST LEGO League Jr. CREATURE CRAZESM Challenges, FIRST collaborated with experts in the fields of biomimicry, ecology, agriculture and animal husbandry, including representatives from University of New Hampshire, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, National Geographic Society, Biomimicry Institute and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, among other specialists to create a theme and challenge missions that reflect how innovation and technology have enabled humans and animals to exchange learning, friendship, help, daily needs, protection, amusement, and love.

“The real-world challenges presented each year by FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. allow children to actively engage in the exploration of a global issue– all while honing their innovative problem-solving skills, working as a team, and applying concepts they’re learning in the classroom,” said FIRST President Donald E. Bossi. “This year, the topic of the animal kingdom will challenge kids to think about animals as partners in the quest to make life better for all of us.”


In the 2016-2017 ANIMAL ALLIESSM Challenge, more than 240,000 children, ages 9 to 16*, from over 80 countries will explore how we can improve our relationship with animals. Students are challenged to think about all the different ways that people interact with animals, and how we can be better allies.

“People and animals and the environment really are linked together. One can’t live without the other and what affects one affects the others,” says Lisa Freeman, professor, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “We have to make sure we optimize the health of people, animals and the environment together, and that we work together to make all three healthier.”

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the ANIMAL ALLIESSM season, teams of up to 10 students will choose and solve a real-world animal/human interaction problem as their Project. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a series of animal-interaction-themed missions as part of the Robot Game which include: bee keeping; working with a service dog; milking automation; and more. Throughout the season, teams will operate under a signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®.

*ages vary by country

  • FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. CREATURE CRAZESM Challenge

The 2016-2017 CREATURE CRAZESM Challenge will reach over 55,000 children, ages 6 to 10 from 29 countries, and help them learn how humans and animals help each other every day.

“I think animals and kids are just so happy working with each other, and kids always love animals.  I think it’s one of the purest and coolest kinds of interactions you’ll see between a child and someone other than their parents,” says Lee Magpili, a LEGO® designer who was part of a team that designed this season’s Challenge.

Each year since 2004, FIRST LEGO League Jr. presents a new and exciting challenge to ignite creativity in young children. This year, while exploring the real-world theme of human and animal relationships, teams will learn about simple machines as they build a model made of LEGO elements with a motorized part. They will also learn to illustrate and present information through a Show Me Poster. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under a signature set of Core Values.

Also new this year is the addition of The Inspire Set, a special LEGO Education kit that will be used by teams to inspire creativity within the Challenge theme, and The Engineering Notebook which will create a more structured experience for teams. Read more about these new additions to the FIRST LEGO League Jr. program here.

FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. are two of four K-12 robotics programs within the Progression of Programs at FIRST®. The organization offers a progression of four international, after-school STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs for students in K-12.

Currently in its nineteenth year, FIRST LEGO League anticipates its largest season ever, with approximately 31,000 teams competing in hundreds of Qualifying Tournaments and Championship Tournaments. Teams will also have the opportunity to participate at two FIRST LEGO League World Festivals, to be held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 19-22, 2017, in Houston, and April 26-29, 2017 in St. Louis.

About FIRST® 
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company is still owned by the Kirk Kristiansen family who founded it in 1932. The LEGO Group is engaged in the development of children's creativity through playing and learning. Based on the world-famous LEGO® brick, the company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 130 countries.

For more information, visit

FIRST® and the FIRST® logo are registered trademarks of  For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). LEGO® and MINDSTORMS® are registered trademarks of the LEGO Group. FIRST® LEGO® League, FIRST® LEGO® League Jr., ANIMAL ALLIESSM, and CREATURE CRAZESM are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and the LEGO Group. ©2016 FIRST and the LEGO Group. All rights reserved.