How to help kids who join mid-season

Every year when fall activities end a wave of people join robotics, and every year most of them quit. I find it’s because they are put on teams with people who have joined at the start of the season. Their teams don’t let them do anything out of fear they will make a mistake and set them back halfway through the season. This is my third year in robotics and every year I’ve noticed this. I have a question to everyone. How do you teach newcomers mid-season without slowing down your team and keeping them interested?

Could they maybe start a new team with new people and just have one of the other teams mentor them?

The issue is they are all different grade levels and want to stay in their own grade. In my case we are all freshman and there is only one freshman left who joined mid season as the rest had gone to other teams and have already quit. We have a comp in two weeks so we can’t afford any slip ups, but I feel we are not giving them a good introduction to robotics.

We only take students at the beginning of the season. It is too disruptive to add someone once the season has started.

We’ve taken students after the season has started and gotten “gems” that way. But, by midseason, i think it is too late to add a team member. By that time, the rest of the team had invested a lot of time and bonded as a team and a new member would distract. That being said, a student that joins an activity then wants to be in robotics after it ends, does not show much commitment. If you really want to be in robotics, pick that as your primary activity and commit at the beginning of the season. Instead of bringing someone on midseason, I’d invite them to join next season.

I add team members to teams mid-season in cases where there is a lot of learning potential. It provides solid continuity - fifth season for 9791C with a rolling influx of 6th graders along the way. It is always done by discussing it with the team - they all know the benefit it.

We are teaching our new member who joined in the middle by having him work on a second robot for scrimmaging ourselves. It won’t go to competition, so it doesn’t matter if they mess up. Whenever one of us gets time off of the main robot, we will go over and help mentor him. We are also training him to be a scout. It is working out pretty nice, considering that we had a couple members drop out mid season.