I just hate these discussions. I come from the FRC competion (big robots, big fab skills, big programming). It’s a mentor driven program. Mentors transfer their skills to the roboteers. Sometimes that means I machine a part and you watch, you machine a part and I watch and then you machine the rest of the parts. And there is an unbelievable amount of “mentor shaming” that goes on, even though it’s a mentor driven program.
VRC I help transfer what I know about robots to the roboteers. I don’t build the robot, the roboteers do that. We may have a discussion about what part may work better (umm it’s a pretty heavy arm, have you considered the VEX turntable? ) I will teach them how to assemble the turntable since it’s a huge pain to get it done the first time. Does that make it a Foster-bot?
VIQ is the same way. You can’t throw a box of VIQ parts at an elementary roboteer and expect them to be successful. They need some level of “help”. Feel free to swap out the word “Help” to “Education”. So we have sessions on how gears work, how to figure out ratio’s etc. Does coming by a team that is struggling with an arm that’s moving to too fast and saying “Hey, have you thought about the gear ratio you are using?” does that make it a Foster-bot?
I’m super done with the entire “Student led” as an absolute. Other than free play, nothing is “absolutely student led” and is successful. It’s Olympic time, do you think any of those kids got there by being just student led? Doug Pederson, Eagles Coach shows up every day. Does he say “go play football?” He doesn’t play, but he was a key factor in the Eagles Championship. And those people are adults.
So lets dial back the “dad-bot” nonsense. I’m like Steve and Quarkmine, I’ve seen more than my share of roboteers that have blown me away with their skills. But none of them started out with just a box full of parts and a “hey be student led, it will work out”. Those two guys have an epic ton of skills, they don’t build robots, but they are awesome at teaching skills to roboteers.
Let’s approach the issue a different way. If you have a parent that’s building, you should sit with them and teach them how to teach their roboteers. Tell them that you recognize their skills in robot building, can you work out a way to transfer their skills to the roboteers. Trust me, that will be well received and go farther than yelling at them. (But let me tell you now that teaching people how to teach isn’t that easy.)
Like Steve, I’ve dealt with people that don’t get it. Ask the parent that I forced to wear oven mitts. (Hey, if you can assemble VRC parts with oven-mitts on, go for it). Eventually they get it. But when you come tell me “Hey that’s a dad-bot” I’ve dealt with it, and you should assume the parent is out of build mode and into teach mode. I’m an VIQ judge, I can look at a notebook and tell you if a fourth grade team did all the work. (Pro tip, perfect handwriting, no spelling/grammar errors, and they have nailed the use of the Oxford comma, it’s not a fourth grader. When in doubt ask them to sign your “autograph book” match the writing)
Penultimate point , I just don’t get the “school has 15 tickets to States”. It’s one ticket per robot. If the school has 15 robots and all of them are going to States then I’m pretty impressed that they were able to get 50 roboteers together to build 15 robots that won events, have taught them the communication skills, have watched them come up with strategies and worked with other people that are complete strangers to score well on matches.
Finally, there is a line between letting people flounder around and giving some direction. Your entire life, including these words, has been full of people offering you helpful tips and ideas. Why now would you take your most precious possession and not do that for them?