I am in the process of trying to form an all girls, neighborhood team so my daughter can get involved. I helped coach my son's teams in years gone by but I have not coached a team for a couple years now.
From what I can remember, I would have to agree completely with what Robert said, especially about the team size. The younger the team members the harder it is for them to focus and for you, as the coach, to keep meetings under control and its a lot easier trying to maintain order with fewer team members. I will also say, from my limited experience, smaller teams are actually easier to coach for any of the age levels. Once you get towards ten team members, it is easier for things to get out of hand.
My ultimate hope for the team will be for them to have fun while learning something they can build on next year, if the choose to participate again, or use somewhere else in their school careers.
Of course, all of this hinges on getting a team together. I've registered and paid the dollars, including a new Mindstorms kit. I now have an extra incentive to get a team going.
> 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.
-- 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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