Is robotics for for kids or adults? - My experience at Norristown HS

Woman ranting at the kids…

I was at the Eastern PA state championships this past weekend held in Norristown, PA. I went there with my daughter who is in middle school and her friend. I heard about VEX robotics through a friend and was fascinated by the level of engagement from the organizers, kids and parents.
Towards the end of the competition, I was sitting with my daughter and her friend in the cafeteria and heard this woman shouting at the kids. I guess she was upset that the kids did not win or something. I was contemplating whether to go over and talk to her but decided not to as I did not know them. She was clearly agitated. Nothing should justify her actions.
My question to the organizers is that, should this kind of behavior be tolerated? It is clearly a kids event and talking down to kids is not appropriate. Certainly my daughter and her friend were taken aback.

Here are the details i managed to get:
The woman was kind of short. Saw here taking pictures during the matches.

I would remove this post - or the details of the team ASAP. Please contact the event partner or RECF Regional Manager with regards to specific issues around the incident.

In general, you are correct this is supposed to be student centered learning opportunity.

Definitely shouldn’t call out a specific team like that on the forum. As @lacsap suggests, contact the organizer and see if they might want to contact the team or take action. Yelling at kids is not acceptable. I’m my own harshest critic when it comes to robotics, and it should be about the students’ motivation.

I agree with the what has been said above:

  1. It certainly not right for an adult to dress down the kids in public as you described it.
  2. It also is not good to mention the specific team or try to identify a specific person in this forum. Finding a way to contact the event partner and/or officials associated with the team would have been a better choice.
  3. You said " I guess she was upset that the kids did not win or something." Did you actually hear her referring to their failure to win? Or was she, perhaps, upset about other aspects of their behavior? Neither should be an acceptable reason for her to yell at the students, although at least if it was because they behaved poorly, I would cut her a little more slack. If it was because they didn’t win, then she was WAY overboard, in my opinion.

i did not specifically hear her say “win or lose” but she she was pointing to kids saying that one did not do the wiring properly the other did not practice…

Understood. Either way, her conduct was reprehensible. Sounds too much like the stereotypical “little league” parent to me.

Unfortunately, this does happen. When it does, I feel bad for the students. They work so very hard and life happens. Students do learn… some adults unfortunately don’t. Thank you for noticing, and caring! As an event partner, I would really want to hear about these incidents at my events. If you do, please make sure it is discrete and away from the teams. Team reputations are important, and often words from adults heard out of context ruin the reputations of perfectly sound teams.

How can i direct this to the event partner? Who would that be?

You can find the contact info for the event partner here:

Sorry you had that experience. You should have come over to the VEXIQ side of the cafeteria. We had a ton of teams that had great robots, great engineering notebooks and some very nice STEM Research projects.

Parents on the VIQ side were really supportive of their roboteers and what they were doing. I had some parents ask about the STEM projects and I walked them through the display room. They were suitably impressed with the efforts.

In your case there are always parents like that. As a judge I most likely would have talked to them to see what the issue is about. Since it’s all about the inspiration, I try to help manage that.

OTOH, this is an inappropriate place to call people out where they can be identified.

VEX is supposed to be for students who are interested in robotics to expand their learning horizons. In many people’s opinions, parents should have minimal involvement in our VEX experiences. When I went to states two weeks ago, there were some teams (not trying to call anyone out) that seemed that the parents were probably a little more involved than they should be. Our mentor was only getting us batteries between competitions from our charger setup, but I have seen some parents running over, plugging everything in, loading up the computer, working on the tobot, and even fixing stuff while the kids just stand around and wait for their next match. Then when they lose, the said parents yell at the kids; I sure wonder whose fault that is. If you have any issues, contact the event partner, as stated above. VEX robotics is for the students, not the parents.

I agree that this is not the best place for calling out specific people especially when, according to the original poster, the details are unknown. It may be the opinion of some that it is never appropriate for an adult to shout at students but “never” is a pretty strong word. I can think of all sorts of situations where shouting would be the most appropriate response.

It may be the situation was exactly what the original poster thinks it is, but it may also be something quite different. I did look up the team and it seems as though that organization had several teams in the tournament and many of them (including the one in question) did well enough to make it to the elimination rounds. It is quite possible that the “shouting” was completely justified and appropriate and it is possible it was completely out of line. We simply cannot know with the very limited and one sided information we have here.