As your team progresses through the season, you might find that they are running out of parts. It is common to need parts beyond the FIRST LEGO League or Edu MINDSTORMS sets. In FIRST LEGO League, all LEGO-branded parts are permitted, with a few exceptions (e.g. Power Functions and wind-up are not allowed, Sound sensors and Infrared sensors are not allowed, etc). Be sure you read the current year’s Challenge Documents for details as what is and is not allowed may change from year-to-year.
To order complete sets, sensors and motors, you can visit LEGO or LEGO Education. The LEGO Education Core and Expansion Sets combined are the FIRST LEGO League set sold at the time of team registration. The Home Edition of the EV3 can be purchased from many retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Toys R Us. To read about the differences between the two sets, read this article.
To order a specific part, you will need to know the LEGO part number. Some LEGO elements have their number printed on them. For most, you will need to look up the part number on the inventory list for the set it came from. For example, the Education Edition of the EV3 Core Set is #45544. The Home Edition version of the EV3 is #31313. If you use a site such as Brickset, you can look up what elements are in the set. For example, type in “45544” in the Search bar on BrickSet. Then, pick “Parts”. It will show you the name, part number, and all the other sets the piece comes in.
This comparison tool is also a handy way to find the part numbers in both EV3 sets quickly. Just order the parts that are not in the 31313 set.
Once you know the name and part number, you can order that specifc part from stores on Bricklink and Brickowl by entering the element number in the search bar. If you cannot find the element number, type the name and it will pull up all closely related elements.
Tips: (Special thank you to Catherine Sarisky for several of the tips below.)
FIRST LEGO League challenge mats are not easily available. You can try marketplace sites such as eBay. You can usually find sets from a past season. Post your request on your local FIRST LEGO League Forum or Listserv. Sometimes teams are willing to sell them at the end of the season. In addition, contact your Tournament Director. Some of them do loan or sell their sets at the end of the season. A good substitute for FLL challenges is the Space Challenge by LEGO Education.