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May 2010

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From:
Robert Haskins <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Robert Haskins <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 6 May 2010 09:05:51 -0400
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See my answers below you questions.

On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 8:37 AM, Matthew Cuba <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Well, hopefully this is the place to ask these questions.  I'm sure someone
> will chime in if it isn't.

It sure is!!

> I'm looking to start an FLL at my son's middle school here in Spotsylvania,
> VA.  I'm in the very beginning stages of this right now - talking with the
> school's Principal and doing a lot of reading. All of this is new to me.  Of
> course, funding will be a BIG challenge.  Realistically, we probably won't
> get going until the beginning of the school year (late August) though I
> might be able to get an informational meeting put together before the school
> lets out for summer.

If you are building a team from scratch, the sooner you get started, the better!

> What is a reasonable timeline for a new team and a new coach?  Can I
> realistically assemble the team when school starts in the Fall and meet once
> a week after school and have sufficient time?

I would focus on how you are going to get your team members together,
and start your informational meetings now before school ends. Get the
word out. Then in August, you can focus on getting commitments from
members. A lot of it depends on your goals. If you are interested in
results, you really can't be building a team in September, even early
September. If you are, you pretty much have run out of time.

> I'm hoping to come up with funding for at least two robots.  Should this
> drive the number of team members?  Should I limit the team size to < 10 in
> this case?  I'd hate to turn anyone away who is interested but I'm wondering
> if logistically too many kids and not enough robots will be a problem.  It
> would seem that 5 kids to 1 robot would be too high, but I don't know that
> for a fact.

Certainly, the more robots you have the better, but unless you have a
good source of easy to obtain money (ie, grants or parents willing to
pony up lots of cash) you probably should set your goal as one robot.
Fielding a startup team is expensive, with the table, robot and
registration costs (among other costs). With a young team, all of the
kids want to work on the robot. With an older team, the kids will
figure out what they like better and will often group themselves into
project and robot sub specialties.

Regarding age, if you are a fielding a young team, I would either get
lots of help from parents OR limit the number of kids on the team to 5
or less. Young kids can be very difficult to manage given the
compressed nature of the program. Again, some of this is dependent
upon your goals. When I coach, I want the kids to learn something
*and* actually show some results. Some coaches don't worry about
results. To me, if the team time is just "messing around", then they
don't need me as a coach -- they can just mess around at someones
house and leave the (FL)Lego stuff out of it.

> Are there any clinics or meetings that would be useful for a new coach to
> attend within 50 miles of Fredericksburg, VA?  I see there is an expo in
> D.C. in May.  Looks interesting.  Do I have to have registered as a team
> prior to attending?   Not sure we'll have funding worked out by then.

Someone else will have to answer this, but I can tell you that the
VADCFLL is very good about having new coach clinics around the DC/VA
area. I'm not 100% sure about the timing of them, but I would strongly
suggest attending a clinic to get good understanding of what you are
getting yourself into.

Good luck!!

-- 
Haskins Family Farm
Middletown, VA
blog: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Middletown-VA/Haskins-Family-Farm/114984971161
web site: http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M20435

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