Warning: Long reply.


Define "OK to do". Will the team be forcibly ejected from the regional
tournament? No. (The FLL budget is suspiciously short on funds for bouncers,
for some reason.) Will they be missing a major component of the FLL
experience? I believe so.


I can't begin to understand what issues you're dealing with, of course, so
please don't think I'm being smug about dealing with a bunch of kids who may
need an Australian sheep dog as much as a coach! I just always hate to see a
team not *try* to do everything.


I've said it before: the Challenge is a journey, not a destination. I
believe it helps teach kids everything you want them to learn: science,
technology, problem-solving, mechanics, teamwork, presentation skills - I
could go on. And I see the Robot Game as the "flash" part of FLL, the thing
that drags 'em in. Not to say that it isn't important and worthwhile, but
the other parts are equally important and worthwhile.


I'd ask myself whether all seven kids:

.         can work on the robot at once

.         have the same skillset

.         have the same interests (deliberately contrasted from skillset)


Presumably the answer is "no" to at least one of the above, and will let you
*and them* help decide how to divide responsibilities.


Now, if you're trying to coach the team single-handed, that's something you
should probably try to fix. Unless all seven are your kids (!), there are
other parents who can and should be involved. A couple of hours a week can
usually be pried out of someone's schedule.


Here's how we did it: I was nominally the engineering guy and my co-coach
was the project person. Happens she was female, but then, so was my entire
team. I helped with the robot and missions and she helped with the project,
presentation, logo design, and like that. We were fortunate in that the
Capital Girls required very little help in these areas, just some guidance
and hints at times.


It sounds like your rookie team needs assistance more than that, which is
fine. Just remember that the kids are the drivers here - this isn't soapbox
derby, where suspiciously well-finished and highly competitive results are
(perhaps, all I know is from TV) accepted: this is FLL. The kids will be on
their own in the judging, and the judges *will* figure out whether they know
what's what or not. That isn't something to scare THEM with - it's intended
to scare coaches who see this and might otherwise be inclined to "help" a
bit too much. (And I don't mean you: the fact that you're considering
scaling back is a good sign. Instead of saying "Well, heck, these wee bairns
can't do it all, we'll just put together a project FOR them", you're
accepting their limitations and looking at how to compensate. In today's
kids-all-gotta-win society that's the right attitude.)


Question: What's the worst thing that can possibly happen? Answer: Their
project is weak. Well, they'll still have done one, and have learned
something, and guess what - they won't see the other teams' projects, so
they'll know they didn't win, but not how weak it was (or wasn't - I've been
amazed by many projects that the teams clearly did themselves, that I *know*
I and my peers couldn't have come close to at their age!).


Help them become a *team*, to grok each other's strengths and weaknesses, to
work together. I always say that the secret of FLL (shhh!) is that the
"competition" isn't really between teams: it's between each team's members,
where the robot is one of those team members (an important and often quite
recalcitrant one, at that). At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, a
team that's a *team* has won already, and will do things that amaze




Phil Smith III


Coach, The Capital Girls (retired)

Team 1900 (2002)

Team 2497 (2003)

Team 2355 (2004)

Team 1945 (2005)


From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Britto
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 5:44 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VADCFLL-L] Skip the Project?


We are a rookie team just getting started with the 2011 tournament

In the interest of time, we may have to focus on the robot game and not work
on the Project/presentation.  Is this something that is ok to do?

Our team of 7 is barely functioning together and our time may be better
spent working on the game!  



John Britto 

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