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Sonya,

Having co-coached the last 2 years, my experience has been that it can work well to assign partners within the team.  For instance, we usually have 6 members and pair older, more experienced kids with younger, less experienced kids when possible but we definitely pay attention to temperament as well - then we ask them to pick which mission they are going to work on after the team as a whole has spent some time brainstorming what they'd like to tackle and after the team has experimented with and  decided (tentatively) on a robot design that might work.  Within each group of 2 we find a range of abilities and interests - some prefer to come up with attachments, some gravitate toward programming, some do a little of both together really well.  This year each member has gained programming experience but it doesn't always work out that way.  We definitely encourage kids to teach kids.  Hope that makes sense.  We see our role as facilitators and we try to ask as many questions as we answer - this keeps everyone actively engaged when circumstances are right (and, if all else fails, just break out the snacks and call it a night!).  

We also find that certain kids really gravitate towards the research project - it is easiest to accommodate their area of interest and let them run with it.

For "control of the robot" during performance rounds, our team "tags in" each member at least once - two members are at the table all the time, with one rotating out and a new member stepping forward as we run missions.  There are probably many approaches that work well - our goal is for everyone to have a role at the table because they all feel valued and more engaged at competition that way.  Also, practice during meetings really helps.  We learned all these approaches from our team mentor, Ann Kutz, who has coached and mentored several successful teams.

Hope this helps!

Kelly Brayton,
co-coach Team Team, Richmond

  
On Nov 9, 2009, at 7:38 PM, Sonya Shaver wrote:

Hi fellow coaches,
I would love to hear how other coaches approach the division of work during the FLL season, and how you decide who does what.  Especially when it comes to managing things like kids having different levels of interest and skill in regards to programming, and also deciding who gets to "control the robot" at the performance rounds.  I'm just owndering how that has played out over the course of the season for different teams.


Thanks for any insight,
Sonya Shaver in Harrisonburg


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