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  • Outreach

    I have noticed that FTC and FRC both emphasize outreach extensively. They really expect teams to work on extending STEM in the community. Since my school is standing up an FTC team, we are starting to think more about what we (FTC) can do as a team in the name of STEM outreach, and I think we have some great ideas.

    But then it occurred to us, the FLL team could also be a part of the outreach. But I have to say I am a little surprised that the FLL core values don't already address outreach. It sort of fits under "Application of FIRST LEGO League values and skills outside FIRST LEGO League" and "Team engages others in their enthusiasm & fun", but barely so, in my opinion. I think for exemplary performance, the metric should specifically call out STEM outreach.

    When I judged at an FTC event recently, many teams were teaching classes at STEM fairs, going to lower schools with robot kits and teaching them basics about robotics, and many other things for community outreach.

    Getting the kids used to this type of outreach at the FLL level would help prepare them for FTC/FRC. Sure, my teams can do this even if it isn't specifically on the rubric (and we will), but I think FIRST could make some improvements here by encouraging more teams to do this type of community service by specifically calling it out in the rubrics.
    Norfolk, Virginia, USA
    FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

  • #2
    NOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Last year I judged FTC and you wouldn't think it was a robot competition. Team after team wanted to do nothing but talk about their outreach. "Here's our instructional website. These are the events we organized. These are the teams we worked with across the globe. Here is our Nobel Peace Prize." Geez! give it a rest. Can we talk about your 3D printed part?

    Outreach is the not very well hidden secret passage to advancing in FLL. Attend a US Open or the World Festival and every Core Values or Champion's Award finalist will have a list of outreach projects. At the tournament we attended these ranged from increasing awareness of FLL in their school to starting robotics clubs to raising money for FLL scholarships or purchasing robot kits for poor schools. That year my girls mentored three teams, worked at the rookie camp, gave a presentation to a future FLL donor and helped me teach computer programming to 3rd graders, and we felt like pikers compared to what other teams were doing.

    I don't know that it is important for outreach to be written into the rubric. When you really understand and try to implement the core values it is natural to want to share the wealth and spread the word. Written down or not outreach is already a big part of FLL culture. So if we add outreach to core values, what do we remove?
    Last edited by Dean Hystad; 01-07-2019, 01:55 PM.

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    • #3
      Well, who ever though Dean would beat around the bush so gently?!?!

      Yeah, I did pick up on the VERY HIGH emphasis on outreach at FTC. I wouldn't want FLL to get that bad, but to prepare for FTC, perhaps it should be emphasized a little? I did think about needing to get rid of one CV to add this. I thought perhaps "Application of FIRST LEGO League values and skills outside FIRST LEGO League" could be rewritten as "Application of FIRST LEGO League values and skills outside FIRST LEGO League. Demonstrated examples of STEM outreach." and this would only be in the exemplary category. Teams could still get marked as "accomplished" if they didn't demonstrate any outreach.

      It sounds to me that you think FTC should emphasize outreach less, and FLL not at all??? I have to admit, FTC would look a lot different if outreach was not emphasized like it is now. Not saying better or worse, but different for sure.
      Norfolk, Virginia, USA
      FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

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      • #4
        I think some FTC teams think outreach is more important than all other parts. I don't think that is the fault of FTC or our local partner. Balance should always be a goal. I think some teams tend to forget that. You do tend to be drawn to what you are good at, and from what I saw not many FTC teams are good at building robots or strategy. Maybe it's all that time spent just getting the hardware to work. Maybe that is the allure of outreach. You can do outreach outside the mad rush of getting your motors to spin and your robot to respond to commands.
        Last edited by Dean Hystad; 01-07-2019, 01:51 PM.

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        • #5
          I agree with Dean but from another direction. I coach a team comprised of home schooled kids through the whole FLL age range. We sometimes help other teams and do demonstrations with our local high school FRC team. But I have great difficulty in getting more than a few members to participate due to their busy schedules and mine. During the August to November time period we have enough to do just doing the project and preparing for the robot game. The project often gets less attention than it should because of time and the kids are mainly interested in doing robot stuff. Adding one more requirement for "outreach" would overwhelm the kids and reduce interest because of even less time for the robot game prep.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 150Roboraptors View Post
            I agree with Dean but from another direction. I coach a team comprised of home schooled kids through the whole FLL age range. We sometimes help other teams and do demonstrations with our local high school FRC team. But I have great difficulty in getting more than a few members to participate due to their busy schedules and mine. During the August to November time period we have enough to do just doing the project and preparing for the robot game. The project often gets less attention than it should because of time and the kids are mainly interested in doing robot stuff. Adding one more requirement for "outreach" would overwhelm the kids and reduce interest because of even less time for the robot game prep.
            Teams control how much work they do for FLL, not the rubric. If you want to attend the World Festival you do a lot of work. If you don't want to do that much work you shouldn't be disappointed when another team is invited. The amount of work you need to do is set by your goals and by the teams in your region. Other than providing clues on how you should spend your time, the rubric has little effect on your schedule.

            Nowhere in FLL is there a requirement that you have to do a project. You have to do a project if you want to advance to a second tournament or win an award, but you can choose to go to a tournament with no project, have fun running your robot, and remember it as a great day of seeing cool robots and meeting others who like robots just as much as you. If you want to attend a second tournament not only do you have to do a project, but your project has to be pretty good. Do a crummy project and teams willing to work harder or longer are invited to advance. FLL is a meritocracy and in FLL the rubric defines merit.

            If outreach were added to core values it would be just one more thing that you could participate in at some level. You could completely ignore outreach (as many teams do today, even in FTC), give the outreach requirement a token effort, or decide that outreach is your favorite part of FLL. Teams that do outreach would get a bump in their evaluation. Teams that skimp on outreach would be knocked down a little bit in their evaluation. This is essentially the way things already work. Teams that do outreach "embrace" or "embody" FLL core values and get a bump in their evaluation. Teams that stick to the robot and project get knocked down a little bit in core values. You are already being judged on your outreach. The only difference in adding an outreach category to core values are some words describing why you were bumped up or knocked down.
            Last edited by Dean Hystad; 01-07-2019, 06:12 PM.

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