This is our second year (first year at state.) The very first year, we meet
in July to get the everyone (myself included) acquainted with programming
and what FLL was.
We did the season.  In January, we started bi-monthly programming sessions
that were 2 hours long.  That ran through early May.  Then we started
meeting as a group again (mostly the same kids) in mid August.   We won at
regional, so our season didn't end until this past weekend.
      2 of the 4 kids who were there from the start are pretty burnt out.
They are committed to next year, but said they don't want to do anything
until August again. :)   I could keep going indefinitely, but I see FLL as
the most exciting thing I get to teach.
  My plan for my returning, what will be 3rd year, team is to lay low until
early May, then get them back together to do some fun, robotic challenges &
exercises and talk about their project.

   I realised an organic progression of my team from year one to year two.
The first year, they came up with  a "theoretical research idea" that they,
themselves, could never have created. (But we discovered about 8 months
later that it had already been in the works in Europe and did, in fact,
succeed, so that was very cool.)  This year, their idea was something they
could have created, but did not.  I would like them to move next year into
an actual prototype or workable model.
    As far as the robot design:  It improved this year because they used
smaller wheels, choose one design and stuck with it which gave them the
entire season to work.  They changed the robot significantly last year
about 3 weeks from tournament!  They learned not to do that this year.
The missions were improved becasue they had a better idea how to make
measured turns and how to mathematically calculate distance from day one.
They learned to start the robot always from the back wall and to build lego
measuring devices (bricks they stacked to tell them where to start from).
Next year, they said they will be using more sensors and allowing the robot
to find more of it's own way.  So I see them using different, evolving
strategies as they move forward.
    What becomes shockingly apparent is that my team is always "best" at
whatever my expertise is best at.  I started off with an expertise in
researching with a strong background in drama with kids.  My kids took 1st
place at regionals.  As I improved at programming, my kids got better and
their programming improved greatly.  I could answer their questions and was
able to help the new members of our team nearly catch up to my experienced
team with programming because I understood it SO much better. With improved
robotic skills, they were able to get to state this year.  So having many
mentors, knowledgeable in different fields, may be the way to go.  I saw
how the team who had two dads as engineers won a top robot design award at
state. I think they just knew how best to mentor the kids in that field.
Good luck next year,

On Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 5:26 PM, Mary Kendrick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi all!
> Well, brand new coach here - we made it to our first tournament, using it
> as a
> learning experience for the years to come.  We did fairly well and the
> team will
> continue to meet throughout the rest of the school year.
> Ideas for goals and focus of these meetings is to redesign our robot and
> work
> on programming the robot to accomplish all missions in Food Factor.
> So the question is, how do you vetern coaches run the off-season meetings?
> Do you meet off-season, making it a school-year club?  Any ideas or
> suggestions on how best to use this more relaxed time is GREATLY
> appreciated!
> Thanks so much,
> Mary
> TechnoSharks
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