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FLL as a school class?

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  • FLL as a school class?

    Last year was our middle school's first year with FLL (6th, 7th and 8th graders). We are tossing around the idea of making FLL a class this fall. Students in the class will be on the team. The class will meet every day for one hour. We will also have two-hour practices after school, three days a week. We haven't fully worked out the curriculum for the class (will it be just robotics, or will it also be core values and project???) We also have not worked out exams and graded work. In other words, we haven't done anything except talk about it as a crazy idea that just might work.

    I'd love to hear from other teachers/coaches that have tried incorporating FLL as a school course. I have a ton of questions but I don't even really know where to start.
    Regards,
    Skip Morrow

    2017 Hydrodynamics
    2016 Animal Allies
    2015 Trash Trek
    2014 World Class Learning

  • #2
    Re: FLL as a school class?

    Quite a few schools in this region have a fall-season (or all-year) robotics course, and participation on a LEGO League team is part of the curriculum.

    Due to FIRST's "10 kids per team" limit, a school class is going to have to sponsor multiple teams. I see that quite a lot at tournament - kids from the same school on multiple teams, all with the same color t-shirts.
    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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    • #3
      I have an Advanced Lego Projects class for my 7th and 8th graders, and part of that class has all of my FLL team members. The FLL students just work on everything to get ready for the competition. I don't worry about any grading for those kids (they all get A's). They are working far harder than any of my students in any other class anyways. My other students in the class work on the curriculum for the class. At the beginning of the semester, all students work on some advanced programming topics like My Blocks, variables, using the gyro to drive straight, etc. When the game goes live, then my FLL kids get cracking on what they need to do. During that time, we will occasionally all come together to discuss topics like attachment construction or other programming techniques.This allows for at least one hour of practice a day. I also have the class during the last period of the day. That way the kids can continue working after school without interruption in what they were doing during class. It usually results in 2-3 hours of practice a day and add in the occasional Saturday. This is our 3rd season of running my advanced class like this and the results have been fantastic. Obviously, that kind of time availability makes for well prepared teams.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tom Mosher View Post
        Due to FIRST's "10 kids per team" limit, a school class is going to have to sponsor multiple teams. I see that quite a lot at tournament - kids from the same school on multiple teams, all with the same color t-shirts.
        Our teams aren't part of a class, but we do have multiple teams wearing the same tee shirts which have all the shool's FLL & FLL Jr. teams on the back. There certainly are possible issues. We had one year where we're pretty sure our best team did not get an award because the judges got them confused with a team of younger kids that didn't behave well, and tanked the Core Values session. We also had a different year where our team that argued with each other all year got a CV award at the regional championship, when we had another team that probably should have won an award did not. Of course, we're not in the judging rooms so we don't know for sure, but the rubrics we got back didn't really match the award (or lack thereof in the first case).

        My recommendation -- get different colored shirts for each team, unless the extra expense makes it not viable.
        Kansas City Region Head Ref 2014-present
        KC Region coaches and teams can ask FLL robot game rules questions at kcfllref@gmail.com

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        • #5
          FIRST is big into involving professionals, but the problem with this is that you loose professional coach/mentors when you hold meeting using business hours. You could bring them in once/twice a season, but not on regular basis. Also, FLL season is at the wrong time for school year, ideally, you would want it at the END of the year and not at the beginning. Not much you can do there...

          But, I do like the idea of five hours a week of "firm class time". I often see "afterschool activity" teams, which meet just 1-2 hours a week and that is just not enough

          How about a daytime class, and those who want to compete come and join an afterschool club, that is almost 7 hours a week!
          Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
          Legolicious - 5th year girls team
          Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

          2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Leon R View Post
            FLL season is at the wrong time for school year, ideally, you would want it at the END of the year and not at the beginning. .... But, I do like the idea of five hours a week of "firm class time". I often see "afterschool activity" teams, which meet just 1-2 hours a week and that is just not enough
            Remember that a good portion of the southern hemisphere has a reversed school schedule from the north, so FLL is at the end of the school year.

            Also, at the FLLOEC, we met MANY teams that were there as either dedicated home school classes, or as official classes in their school. Those teams, mostly from non US countries and had dedicated a lot of time and money into being the best in the world. They seemed well funded, well trained, and well practiced. They also had the advantage that they could compete until 16 or even 18 years old.

            Point: it's VERY doable, especially if the school is willing to make it and official class and the kids take it seriously. Its even doable as a school club. My town does that, but routinely the kids in it don't feel they have skin in the game and don't do as well as the non-school teams. That might just be the nature of this particular school club and its leaders.

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            • #7
              Good point about the southern hemisphere!

              I observed the same trend with most school based teams. I agree that it is doable, but it is far from perfect set-up for school setting and calendar
              Last edited by Leon R; 12-12-2017, 03:39 PM.
              Legolympians - 2009-2015 (retired - joined FRC team 5422 Stormgears)
              Legolicious - 5th year girls team
              Brick Force - 2nd year boys team

              2015 - Mass FLL coach of the year.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by cschaffer View Post


                Point: it's VERY doable, especially if the school is willing to make it and official class and the kids take it seriously. Its even doable as a school club. My town does that, but routinely the kids in it don't feel they have skin in the game and don't do as well as the non-school teams. That might just be the nature of this particular school club and its leaders.
                Here in Germany, many successful teams are private. And if they are from a school, then of course, they meet more than just one afternoon at school, but take their Lego at home over the holidays, have access to their own room every afternoon and sometimes even on weekends or during holidays or already have all of their equipment at home.

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                • #9
                  My team is an elementary school based team. We meet after school for 2 hours twice a week. That's all the time we have. I am a coach, but I am also one of the teachers in the building, so I have the table set up in my room all season. I have to report to school an hour before the kids do, so I was thinking of opening that time up to the team if they want to come in early. I'll have other things to do during that time, but they can work on their programming, project research or whatever. We'll still have meeting times where I have them practice core value challenges, etc. but just to have free time to work on their programs would be good for them, I think.

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