Best way to set up an organization / club


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!

My school did something similar to this last year except that we were running an FRC program and the elective class had everyone working on one team instead of multiple teams like your program has. For us it worked out great and if you can get enough students to take that elective then I would say go for it, which it sounds like your planning on doing. As one of the students in that class I thought that it was an excellent intro into robotics as you have an hour with dedicated teachers and experienced students that are able to help you learn how to do things. I’ve been in robotics since my 8th grade year, and while I put a lot of effort into learning it would have been easier if I started sooner. However any age should be fine as long as your program has a method to teach the less experienced.
To respond about the transition from a lower level of the program to a higher level. I deal mostly with FIRST robotics, so this is slightly different but concept still applies. If your not familiar with the FIRST programs it goes FTC then to FRC. While I was in FTC, my team was very successful as we won 1-2 competitions a year, made it to playoffs at states every year, and did alright at super regional and worlds, and that have continued to have great success since I left. My FRC team on the other hand has never won a competition, but has done well in terms of ranking at events, and awards. While I do miss winning that is not whats important. Really whats important is what the kids get out of the program, experience with engineering, how to use the engineering process, how to make a decision with out emotion, public speaking, team work, leadership. Once you get good at those you will see some success, especially when you move onto harder levels of competition. There are many different forms of success. Its not just wining competitions.

@sankeydd , what?! you’re moving?

Our groups evolved from one VRC team about 4 yrs ago to 5 last year (3 VRC and 1 IQ). One thing I noticed was that we needed at least two teams to practice well and to setup autons that work together for maximum scores so pairing your teams may be beneficial. When we first started we had no programmers, then one emerged, then eventually two did on VRC and one on IQ, then one for each team. Each team needs a good programmer (especially how skills is setup), good driver, and good builder. The next one or two kids (max) is live coaching and scouting. I found if I let the kids self-assemble for the most part it worked out, but I did have to force the first two positions sometimes. Since we are a private team we don’t have an issue with slackers, if that happens they are off the team. Not to be mean, but I’m sure they could make better use of their time somewhere else.

I’m going to Westwood Middle School, about 10 minutes away. Lincoln is still continuing their program as well. Still trying to figure everything out!