Lessons Learned by Team 5205 – Concord Full Metal Jackets
You will receive “points” that are called “First Choice” and if you wait to purchase things with them, everything will be gone!
Make sure you develop a “succession” plan for your coaches—this is a labor of love but it is an intense experience and sometimes coaches cannot do a “repeat” so having a plan (or a pool) to replace a coach is very important.
Engage parents IMMEDIATELY—if nothing else, make sure to have parents attend one of the competitions. Once people have the experience of competition (parents AND students), they’re hooked. It is electrifyingJ Parents want to join in; they just need to be asked. Food is always a good thing to ask forJ
It is really important to have team members split the work—we let students assign themselves, but we had the areas designated. Areas of work included design, construction, PR, game rules, and programming. We would meet at the end of every work session to listen to each other report about the work that day. It doesn’t do any good if a team has people learning the rules and others designing if the people don’t talk to each other every day. You end up wasting a lot of precious time unless you work together on different tasks but communicate daily.
There is a great need to raise awareness of your team and its goals to the community. Our team presented at a Board meeting of the school, appeared on TV for a “Schools Rule” spot on WILX, and invited the middle school team over to the high school for a “meet and greet” so they knew we were excited about the incoming freshmen for next year. All of these things contribute to the word being spread that you are working hard and are excited about it! People want to help you when they know what you are trying to accomplish.
Fundraising must be done by EVERYBODY—businesses really perk up when the students are the ones talking about what they are doing and asking for help. Make sure you go as a team of students and coaches (not everybody goes to each business but everybody needs to be involved by phone calls, personal visits, writing the presentation in a PowerPoint or Prezi, to mention a few ways to contribute). Parents can help with this as well and often are the business connections for us.
Make sure to keep “work logs.” Understanding how much time you spend right from the start will help you improve and plan more efficiently the next year. It’s important to know how much time it takes to plan and build the robot in a general sense because there is NEVER ENOUGH TIMEJ
ASK FOR HELP—don’t hesitate. One of the best things about this experience is the phenomenal collaboration and helpful teamwork among all of the teams. Even though we want to win at competition, there is NO hesitation on anyone’s part to help each other out. It is one of the most special parts of the experience of US First.