-can adults suggest resources to look up for the project, suggest people to interview,
Ask, a bunch of questions about resources- ask where we find resources? Can you think of a place online that could be helpful? How would we find that? What do you think the key word search for that resource (you just named) would be? Who can tell about this? Where could be find the information about who would know?
possibly make a preliminary phone call to introduce the team to potential interviewees, etc.?
This I do think is ok, because adults, especially professionals, don't have a lot of time, and they are answering your questions out of kindness of their hearts. I would have the kids think of questions and present them to the professionals through a phone call or email with my name on the bottom. Letting them know in the email that kids had constructed the questions. Once initial contact is made, in person questions and interviews should be directed by the kids, but be kind to them and prep the kids by making sure everyone has a question and they understand who they are talking to. Don't ask the bug professor about the architectural structure of farm houses. (stuff like that.)
-can adults do things that aren't directly related to the STEM content, such as design a logo if the kids have no clue or come up with something that's impossible to silk screen?
The logo is a team building exercise for my team, but it's not directly judged by the competition at any level, so I don't know what rule you be violating by designing it for the team. Our designs are also self silk screened. I tell the kids to draw the design with a thick marker. If you can draw it in a thick marker, you can silk screen it. In one or two different groups I've worked with, I had the kids create a design they liked, and I drew/translated the design into the silk screen myself. The kids pulled the colors themselves and everyone felt like they learned how to silk screen :)
I've had super good luck getting die-cast lettering to do our name in. The letters are usual the hardest part.
Help them with coming up with a cheer?
Seems legit to help them learn some cool cheers.
Also, I'm curious as to how experienced teams have balanced the needs of kids with different levels of experience. I have kids with tons of Mindstorms experience and some with none. It was suggested on the first coach call that the kids spend time going through the tutorials to bring everyone up to speed, but I'm worried that'll turn off the more experienced kids.
Once the kids select a preliminary robot design, would it make sense to assign some of the more experienced kids the programming for one of the harder missions and have the beginners try their hand at an easy one while they learn programming and hope to connect the two modules later?
I think this may be different in every team. In my team (and I am only speaking for my team of 5-7 kids) we make a lot of decisions in a group- like what missions runs will look like, how we can combine them and what attachments can be used. The kids do work on different levels- the kids with less experience tend to do the closer, less complicated missions by choice. The kids that want to plan and implement more complex missions with attachments and senors take on those missions will do that. I don't assign the kids to missions, they work that out. I am always around making sure the process moves forward, goals are achieved and everyone's attitude is in check and respectful.
So to answer your question pointedly- they will most likely self separate into the levels of programming they have. If a member without experience wants to use a new tool, I will teach them how to use it, or ask them to partner with a more experienced programmer who asked to be on that mission. The voting for the missions happens organically. Kids say "I want to work on that", & they pick or ask a person to help them.
Use the sheet for programming plan outline on the techbrick site. It's uber helpful!
My team does two team building exercises a meeting. I think this really helps builds comradery and cooperation among the members.
Would it be a good idea to let the more experienced kids actually
build the robot and have the rookies initially observe and document so
they get a feel for how the pieces go together?
Is this too much direction?
I find the robot design to be the most complicated thing for new members. The kids work together initially to create a list of desired properties- wide or skinny, 3rd motor to the side, middle or in back? what kind of back wheel do we need- tri-wheel, slider, ball joint? Again, we go over questions, look at the missions, and they decide together what the robot needs to look like. On my team, the two designers, and they are the kids who say, "I have an idea of how to do that!" create the robot design based on the listed properties given by the group. They go back to the team, and team gives their opinion on what they like and what they would like to see changed. But in my group, the whole team doesn't physically design the robot, but they all contribute to it's creation.
Hope this helps, these are good questions,
Thank you and sorry for the long message,
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