I would like some input on different types of organizations that are out there.
I think most teams are teams that are associated with a school or a small club. I would also think that most organizations have 10 or less teams associated with them.
I’m a middle school teacher we’ve done things a little differently, purely by accident. For the past couple of years I have worked at a middle school and we had three elective classes. We also had a school club that got an extra team or two in there. We almost had to get another team number because we were close to maxing out. These were mostly VEX IQ teams, but I always hoped that simply exposing to robotics would encourage them to get into robotics in high school. We did have a few VRC teams as well.
For my middle school students, IQ was very straightforward and enough of them pick it up quick enough that students just did the competitions. The first couple of weeks I have the kids build claw bots, and then they use them to do a couple of programming challenges and then play the new game once or twice. I switch them up a couple of times in the first couple of weeks to help me figure out their competition teams (with a survey as well). After a couple of weeks of class I place them in their competition groups and we go from there with all aspects of the competition.
Done of the kids had experience in elementary, but it wasn’t necessary.
The class fee was about $30 (closer the $50 this year) but this wasn’t too bad for most of the kids. That covered team registrations and the three tournaments we held locally.
What’s really nice about this is that I can compel them to do everything a little better. Most teams want to build the robot and play the game. If their notebook isn’t being done, their robot can disappear until it starts getting done, and group grades are an effective way to keep the kids on top of each other.
When you are dealing with a large group of kids you have choices about how to place the kids. My first year I took the kids and evenly distributed the talent. I think that was a big mistake, as the groups all just had 1-2 kids working hard, and the others slacking. My second year I put all of the highly motivated kids together, and on down the line. Those “lower” groups actually worked fairly well together, and the got a lot more done than if I had put them with a “high” one.
Anywho, that’s some of my thoughts.
Other coaches, and teachers, do you do anything like this? Is competition robotics an elective at your school or is it just part of PLTW and you run some competition teams in a club?
Students out there, would you have liked this setup in middle school? Do you think this is a good entryway into robotics? What age would you have liked to start competition robotics?
Also, if you transitioned from VIQC to VRC, how did that go for you? Some of the kids I had regretted doing VRC because they mostly had to compete against high school teams and their friends still in IQ did much more winning. As the kids on those teams told me, it was quite a struggle.
It really has worked well for me but I am open to new ideas. Feel free to tear me a new one. I’m moving to a new school this year with the same model. My last school was an academic magnet and this one is more of a “regular” school. So, I’ll let you know how it goes!