The 2020 / 2021 FIRST LEGO League robot game challenge has been announced, and we could not be more excited!!

FIRST® GAME CHANGERS powered by Star Wars: Force for Change

Build Better FIRST LEGO League Robots

A step-by-step online resource for anyone who wants to master LEGO Robotics (for the FIRST LEGO League, or just in general). Start building and programming awesome robots that do exactly what YOU want them to!

Created by a professional robotics teacher and two-time FIRST LEGO League world champion.


Engaging Video
Tutorials & Demos

Learn the secrets to building robots that drive straight and operate reliably. With proven strategies from a world champion, you'll be building killer robots in no time!


Build Alongside
A World Champion

Learn by watching AND by doing. Follow along as Michael designs, builds, programs, tests, and troubleshoots his robots, explaining his thought process as he goes. Learn to think like the master... understand the WHY, not just the HOW.


A Proven Method
For Success

Quickly create programs that accomplish FLL missions reliably and efficiently. Michael's streamlined demos and walkthroughs teach you everything you need to know.

Learn Kid-Friendly Scientific TESTING Methods

This is the biggest headline on the whole webpage, because testing is HANDS DOWN the most important skill students need to learn in order to master the art and science of LEGO Robotics. If you haven't yet established a method for effectively and efficiently testing your robot missions, you won't be able to learn from your mistakes or conclusively validate your ideas. If you can't learn from your mistakes or validate your ideas, you're doomed to repeat those mistakes, lose confidence, and get frustrated.

Learn From the Best


Michael Vawter was lead programmer, builder, tester, and handler for the MindStorm Troopers FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team. They competed for four years, becoming the first team to win 1st place Robot Performance at the FLL World Festival two years in a row. Michael co-founded the Robot Academy and has taught thousands of students how to master LEGO robotics. He's been featured in Popular Science Magazine, was on TV with Bill Nye the Science Guy, and was inducted into the National Gallery for Young Inventors. He published peer-reviewed psychophysics research at Denison University in 2011 and went on to earn a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Michael has continued to contribute to the FLL community by serving as a judge and referee at the state and world level. He has also coached and mentored teams of his own (some of whom have won international titles of their own).

In his ongoing career as a robotics teacher, Michael helps students and teachers to analyze and solve technological problems more creatively by integrating their right-brain and left-brain capacities.

Learn the secrets behind Michael's success in the FIRST LEGO League!

Learning Outcomes

  • Employ real-world scientific testing methods in a fun and easy way (avoid the frustration and wasted time that results from ineffective testing)
  • Design robust and minimal robot bases/chassis that navigate accurately (avoid the frustration of “why is my robot doing something different every time I run it???”)
  • Learn how to build and customize some of the most useful and versatile LEGO mechanisms of all time (the ratchet, the one-way-door, the mechanical alignment wedge, the plow, the rake, etc.)
  • Learn to intelligently utilize opportunities to align on on mission models, walls, lines, etc. without overcomplicating
  • Understand real programming concepts (including debugging techniques) and how to use them in FLL
  • Overview of basic, intermediate, and advanced EV3 programming concepts
  • Much, much more!

Success Stories

"These videos are genius. I've learned so much and this is my 6th year coaching." -Megan

[My son] has always been great with LEGO, but now he's starting to talk like a little inventor. I'm always hearing about tests and prototypes." -Crystal

"I manage the robotics program at [private elementary school]. This course is remarkably thorough and easy to follow. I no longer have to worry that the kids will know more than me!" -Ron

"I took a chance with this curriculum and I couldn't be happier with the result. We have a wide age range [at robotics club], so I was worried some of the lectures wouldn't land. It was great. Michael's explanations are straightforward but also very deep, so there's something for everyone. I was jealous that the kids got to build everything!" -Jeanette

Our 17k+ fans on FB have had some things to say as well:

Course Outline

Each module contains a series of engaging video demonstrations and tutorials. Michael does not suggest specific strategies/ideas for solving 2020-2021 "FIRST® GAME CHANGERS" mission challenges. This is primarily for ethical reasons, as it's important that your students develop their own ideas for solving the FLL missions after learning from the methods and tools contained herein. The added benefit is that the curriculum is not tied to a specific challenge year and will be just as useful to you next year.

Module 1 Key Concepts and Strategies
Best Practices for LEGO Implement Design
Winning Strategies (Navigation, Mission Prioritization, Etc.)
Best Practices for Chassis Design
Module 2 Mechanical Design and Testing
Mechanical Alignment: The Ultimate Success Strategy
Efficient and Effective: Testing Strategies
Module 3 Advanced Robot Base/Chassis Design and Construction
Drivetrain Design,  Friction, "Free Wheels", and Optimal Weight Distribution
Module 4 Intro to EV3 Programming
Michael's Mission Programming Method
Basic EV3 Programming Overview and Orientation
Module 5 Intermediate EV3 Programming Techniques
Using Sensors Effectively
Using Math Blocks and Variable Blocks (with Data Wires)
Module 6 More Mechanical Design Concepts
Designing and Using Ratchet Mechanisms
Using Gears
Designing and Using a "One-Way Door"
Analysis/Dissection of World-Class Robots
Module 7 Expert-Level EV3 Programming Concepts and Techniques
Building "Smart Turn" Subroutines for Precision Navigation
Anticipating Program Failures and Building in "Fail Safe" Algorythms
Organizing your Programs and Streamlining your Process
Prepping for Tech Judging (advice from a World-Level Tech Judge)
Module 8Tutorials in Response to Student Questions
Using Gyro Sensors, etc.
FREE BONUS The Art and Science of Robot Handling
Michael’s “Zen Robot Handling” Method
Demonstrations and walkthroughs of successful robot handler pairs

Notes from the Instructor

Is robotics really worth it? How valuable is this for your child?

Having taught thousands of students face-to-face and now hundreds more online, I can assure you: LEGO robotics changes lives. That may sound dramatic, but it's not. LEGO robotics is one of the best hobbies a kid can have. It's highly technical, it involves both the 'creative' left brain and the 'analytical' right brain, it rewards detailed planning and goal setting, and it helps kids to develop their mechanical-spatial awareness. These are 'higher order' mental skills that will benefit your kids long term.

It's not really about the robots anyway...

Wait, what?? The whole masterclass is about LEGO robotics, isn't it?! Well, yes and no. LEGO robots are super cool, and learning about them is great. But in my years as a robotics teacher and coach, I've come to understand that the LEGO robots are simply a canvas on which we paint larger concepts. In ten years, it likely won't matter how much your kid knows about LEGO robotics. But if working with LEGO robotics in a diligent and supported way helps them to unite their various analytic and creative capacities in service of an achievable and worthwhile goal (which is exactly what it did for me, and exactly what it's done for hundreds of my students), that's the sort of mental/emotional skill that will set them up for success long-term. So, that's why we're here and that's why this online course exists.

Helping kids transcend mental blocks (with robotics, and beyond)

After I won the FIRST LEGO League world championship and when I was first getting into teaching, I used to tutor kids one-on-one. This was a great experience for me, because I was able to figure out what a kid's mental blocks and areas of weakness were and give targeted advice to help them break through. Now, a decade or so later, I've discovered that kids tend to have the same 5-10 mental blocks about robotics. They're easy to correct, if you know which concepts to explain and how. That's why this online masterclass exists now: to help kids across the world beat the LEGO robotics learning curve and start designing incredible robots! I've taken the principles I've learned over 10+ years of teaching and condensed them into eight action-packed video modules. Once you learn the core concepts and techniques demonstrated in this course, there's really nothing stopping you from creating incredible designs that solve real-world challenges (or FIRST LEGO League challenges) efficiently and reliably.

Lay the groundwork for a successful 2021

We're currently granting new students 2-year enrollments for the price of 1.

Pre-Season Special (ends August 31, 2020):

We're temporarily offering a free extra year of enrollment (two years instead of one) so that teams who sign up now can use the program next year as well! It has been so much fun working with you all. Good luck this season! I'll see you inside! -Michael

  • Individual
  • License for individual use, but feel free to share with your team members (only one person can be logged in at a time)
  • License for 12 months
    License for 24 months
  • FREE BONUS: the Art and Science of Robot Handling (Michael explains his "Zen Robot Handling" method and conducts live demonstrations with successful robot handling teams)
  • $450

    Enroll Instantly
  • Whole-Team
  • Seperate accounts for up to 10 team members and 2 coaches ("flip the classroom" and assign videos as pre-meeting homework)
  • License for 12 months
    License for 24 months
  • FREE BONUS: the Art and Science of Robot Handling (Michael explains his "Zen Robot Handling" method and conducts live demonstrations with successful robot handling teams)
  • $650

    Enroll Instantly

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

If you're not completely satisfied after 30 days, we'll refund your money in full (minus the 3% that we have to pay to the credit card company regardless) and close your account. The only requirement to qualify for a full refund is that you log into your account on three separate occasions. We know that if you put in the work, you'll be happy and successful!

Access Material Immediately

Get started now! We’ll send you login info and enable your account instantly. The content is available on-demand (no need to log in at specific times).

Work at Your Own Pace

If you’re an experienced student and you’re planning to binge-watch these videos as quickly as possible to pick up new information, you can be done in a mere 10 hours. However, most of our students work at a somewhat slower pace and pause the videos frequently to try out the techniques and principles Michael is demonstrating. It is more common for our students to spend a few hours with the program each week over several months.

Looking for more details?

Use the links below to email or call Michael. Or, click here to read Michael's "FLL Methods" Manifesto from 2017

Corporate Address (Seattle)

Robot Academy, LLC
7511 Greenwood Ave North, Unit 4064
Seattle, WA 98103