We will periodically have instant challenge
meetings (usually one early in the process and one late in the process). Some are silly, some are large scale building challenges
and at least some involve balloons :) It's these meetings that can
keep them going and serve to build great community and core value
I often give more time then the 5 minutes, especially for the building device challenges, because 5 minutes can zoom by. But we will use the 5 min time as we get closer and closer to the actual tournament.
My team last year was a fabulous group of engineer minded kids. At least two were on the spectrum, so they didn't LOOK like they were having fun- especially when they were in "think" mode. This kinda killed us at our local tournament unfortunately, but you can overcome this a little if you end the team building with an orchestrated cheer- like a everyone puts their hand in and says their team name as they lift their hand up. Make this something you try to practice at the end of teamwork skills or at the end of each meeting. It would be especially awesome if you had a team member make up a little cheer or dance they can do to show they enjoyed themselves. We had this thought after
the tournament was over :) an we were reviewing the notes from the judges as a team. One of the boys said, "I had the most fun in that room!" I was there- he didn't show it on his face. Good thing it's really about what they learn and how much fun they have!
The year my team won state, we had three energetic out going types that really carried the team in the team building exercise room- they were just the glue that held it together. We didn't have them this past year and despite a great robot game (2nd place), a solid robot design score, and winning 1st in research we did not move on. SO as proof- the robot game is NOT the most important thing!!
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