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Tell me why I should coach next year

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  • Tell me why I should coach next year

    I am a rookie coach of 3 young homeschooled girls who just finished our first season at the qualifier. I have an engineering/math background, but not much mechanical engineering.

    Let me say our team had a fabulous time at the qualifier. Lots of fun was had by all, and we all learned a lot.

    We continued to meet 2x a month to continue learning about programming and robot design in preparation for next year.

    Then I just burned out. I looked ahead to the next year: I still don't have a good feel for robot design, even having worked partway through the Winning Design book. I thought the first half of the book was poorly written, and couldn't bring myself to get through the 2nd half.

    My dd doesn't care for the graphical programming language Lego uses. We recently embarked on learning Python, and both of us were relieved at how much easier it is to learn and understand than Lego.

    The Project was a surprise to me last year. Why are we doing a science fair at a robot competition? I didn't know about the project until we had already registered. We managed to put something together, but the idea of going through that again, in addition to all the robotics stuff, just seemed daunting.

    Has anyone else BTDT? The kids would like to continue, but it seems like such a time sink to me, better spent elsewhere.

    Thanks for your help!

  • #2
    Re: Tell me why I should coach next year

    Originally posted by daijobu View Post
    Let me say our team had a fabulous time at the qualifier. Lots of fun was had by all, and we all learned a lot.
    Is this a trick question? That's pretty much top of the food chain in youth sports.

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    • #3
      Re: Tell me why I should coach next year

      Originally posted by daijobu View Post
      Why are we doing a science fair at a robot competition?
      FLL isn't a robot competition. It's an activity to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. The robots are just part of the curriculum that helps achieve those goals.
      FIRST Tech Challenge Judge: 2010, Referee: 2017
      FIRST LEGO League Mentor, Instructor, and/or Referee/Head Referee since 2011
      FIRST Robotics Competition judge (Chairman's Award): 2014
      Dean says I'm an "Oompa Loompa of Science"

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      • #4
        Re: Tell me why I should coach next year

        Originally posted by daijobu View Post
        ...but the idea of going through that again, in addition to all the robotics stuff, just seemed daunting.

        Has anyone else BTDT? The kids would like to continue, but it seems like such a time sink to me, better spent elsewhere.

        Thanks for your help!
        Perhaps you should stop after one year. If either you or your kids aren't enthused about continuing, now could be a good time to stop However, since it sounds like you had a positive experience overall, I'll offer these observations that might help you decide one way or the other.
        1. I don't really recommend FLL as a year-round activity. I think both kids and coaches need a break from robotics. Take a few months off and see how you feel. There's no rush to decide about next season yet. Registration doesn't even open until May, and stays open into September.
        2. It does get easier after the first year. Teams and coaches learn a lot the first year. They continue to learn in later years, but I think the rate slows. The good news is that teams become more productive. They are able to accomplish more in less time. This can help make FLL less of a time-sink.
        3. If you had a team of 3 kids, your team was on the small side. Perhaps you can create a larger team by combining with another group of home-schooled kids? Or perhaps add some kids from your neighboorhood? A slightly larger team gives you more resources to tackle both the robotics and project portions of FLL. Adding more kids might help entice another parent to become involved also. Coaching FLL is hard to do by yourself. It becomes much less daunting when you have another adult to help you.

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        • #5
          Re: Tell me why I should coach next year

          Originally posted by Tom Mosher View Post
          FLL isn't a robot competition. It's an activity to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. The robots are just part of the curriculum that helps achieve those goals.
          This is the big thing to remember with FLL.

          The kids learn a lot doing the project side but its a lot of work in a very short time and not the part the kids like to focus on so it does burn you out.

          There are other robotic leagues to look into depending on the age of your team kids. We are moving to VEX since my kids are middle school age until they are old enough to come back to FRC.
          X.K.A.R.'s Teams
          Xenia Kids And Robots
          www.xkar.org

          Team 633 Robotatoes
          Team 634 Bro-ritos
          Team 6348 uhhh do you want fries with that

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          • #6
            Re: Tell me why I should coach next year

            Thank you, everyone! I have some things to think on this summer.

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            • #7
              Re: Tell me why I should coach next year

              When I read your question, I thought back to myself 3 years ago. No, I'm not a veteran FLL coach. I will be a newbie this coming season. I have, however, been coaching OM for 3 years. My first year was ROUGH. I coached by myself because none of the students' parents would step up to help me. It was so difficult and I was new and there was such a learning curve and by the end of it I was feeling so defeated and burned out and negative. I said never, ever again. 3 years later, I've been to states with my team twice and it has been really, really rewarding. After that first year, I decided to make sure I had a co-coach that I could work well with and recruited students onto the team that would work well together. Because I had learned so much the year before, there was less of a learning curve and the new team and co-coach made a big difference. A little planning made a big difference. Now that the kids are going into intermediate school, I see them needing a new challenge and I like that they can hone the skills they've learned and gain technical skills in FLL. They are burned-out on OM now. So am I. Time for a change.
              -Amy
              Newbie Coach
              Lancaster, PA

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