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Unread 04-07-2006, 11:57 AM
rourke's Avatar Unsung FIRST Hero
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The Triplet Challenge

Dean will give us a homework assignment again this year. Iíll go out on a limb and speculate that it will involve continued growth of FIRST. Letís beat him to the punch, and develop our own.

The Triplet Challenge:
Letís forever end the debate on collaboration Ė and commit to use it for the purpose of growing and sustaining FIRST. We should all be able to rally around that. Go out and find a high school whose students are yearning for the opportunity, but whose faculty or administration is intimidated by starting a team. Or, find a school that is willing and able but doesnít have the engineering or mentor support to provide the guidance. Or, resurrect a school that used to have a FIRST team, but dropped out because of lack of support. Offer to have the new team copy everything you are doing next year. Everything. Get that team off the ground and performing at a high level. Have them copy your design. Help them make some of the parts. Stretch your budget to help them with registration, travel, spare parts, batteries, and tools. Help them with their organizational structure. Assist them with marketing and financial planning, coach them on scouting and game play, and share mentor expertise.


Letís see Twins and Triplets all over the country Ė but with the clones being schools that are new or who are in need of support. Letís not stop at the Niagara Triplets, or the Martian Twins. Letís see Twins and Triplets popping up all over Ė all with new or fledgling teams that couldnít quite do it all on their own. Watch these teams grow and improve. And some day they will fly on their own, and maybe create their own Twins or Triplets.


What I Believe: Collaboration is the most effective way to get a new team up and running quickly, with a high level of capability. Students on these new teams get inspired more quickly, grab the attention of school administrators right away, generate more media attention, attract more interested students, and attract a larger sponsor base. Weíve proven this in Niagara with The Triplets. The collaborative leveraging strategy has huge potential to accelerate FIRST growth if it is embraced responsibly. The Governor of Michigan has pledged to get FIRST into every high school in her state, and announced she is adding $2 million to the state budget to get things started. Collaboration needs to play a part in all of this, or there will be many teams that will fall by the wayside, or struggle and become disillusioned. The Niagara school boards have been so impressed with the inspiring success of The Triplets that they are budgeting entry fees for new school teams in the future. Donít expect to see The Quads or The Quints, but expect to see responsible, rule-abiding collaboration used to field some highly competitive rookies and to keep the current teams alive and well.


I can envision the FIRST landscape being filled with Twins and Triplets with monikers like: Pinklettes, Division by Triplets, TribeDelphi, Wildstang Posse, Huskie Platoon, The Beastie Boys, Trucktown Thunder & Lightening, Killer Beehive, HOT-HOTTER-HOTTEST, Thunder Henhouse, The Bomb Squadron, and RUSH! RUSH! RUSH!.....to name but a few.


The Triplet Challenge: Go ye forth and multiply!!!
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:04 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by rourke
Offer to have the new team copy everything you are doing next year. Everything.
I like the idea of using collaboration to create new teams. There are so many things an existing team can do to pave the road for a new team - facilities, travel, old robot parts, mentors, teachers... but I dont like the Everything part.

FIRST is about doing, doing things yourself shows you that you can do it - thats the whole point.

Handing a team a completed robot design is, in a way, insulting.

Collarboration is an excellent tool, make sure the new team has a meaningfull role to play or they will end up feeling like second rate poor cousins.

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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:10 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Stephen,

Excellent assignment. Thier are many teams throughout the country that would gain tremendous expierence working with older teams.

I agree that if need be we build twins and triplets with these rookie teams, and give a lending hand to those veteran teams that need it. Collabration is something that as you said shouldbe used as an educational tool.

I agree Stephen, lets all go out and try and help the teams that need our help the most. Wether it be building twins, triplets, or even quadruplits, to just helping them understand some concepts.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:17 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Amazing post, very well worded.

In this, not only do you describe why the Triplets exist, but also how they are fulfilling FIRST's goal of inspiring the kids. They have 3 times the idols, 3 times the inspiration. Thank you for calling attention to how your team is truly embodying the ideals of FIRST, and encouraging other teams to do the same.

[Edit] Perhaps as a part of this challenge, NiagaraFIRST can create some sort of presentation, packet or guide for other teams to follow in order to start a similar program.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:17 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
I like the idea of using collaboration to create new teams. There are so many things an existing team can do to pave the road for a new team - facilities, travel, old robot parts, mentors, teachers... but I dont like the Everything part.

FIRST is about doing, doing things yourself shows you that you can do it - thats the whole point.

Handing a team a completed robot design is, in a way, insulting.

Collarboration is an excellent tool, make sure the new team has a meaningfull role to play or they will end up feeling like second rate poor cousins.
I agree with Ken. It's hard to remember but FIRST isn't about a robot competition. The competition is the just celebration of your accomplishment.

Collaboration can help when resources aren't there but the other teams need to be actively involved in all aspects, not just handed a design or a kitbot to put together.

Real learning takes place when you have to overcome hard obstacles and challenges. Having a winning robot is nice but I would rather be a 'loser' and have the students on my team learn as much as they possibly can. That's just my opinion.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:26 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

I won't argue the legality of clones here, as that's been done to death. However, to actively encourage rookie teams to participate in such partnerships is suicide for FIRST.

Yes, many rookie teams don't do very well, and they all face challenges. However, the main reason -- heck, the only reason -- I am still involved with FIRST was the thrill I had during my and my high school team's rookie year designing a robot from scratch, getting to build it, and then getting to see it out on the field. We got to design and build everything: driveline, chassis, manipulator, electronics. Of course we had design help from professional engineers and mentors, and we received lots of advice and tips from other teams, but there was still a sense of ownership of our design, our process, our organization, and even our mistakes.

If you are so keen on assisting "helpless" rookies by doing their work for them, why not take a page from Team 190's book. Invite students from local school who do not have a team to join yours for a year. Work with them on your team. They will be getting he same experience as if they cloned your team, without clogging FIRST with carbon copies and crowding events with duplicate teams (plus you save on a second registration).

The next year, they can go on to start their own teams with the benefit of a year's worth of experience. Once they start a team, mentor them, but don't coddle them. Work with them to improve their design, invite them to come in and use your facilities and equipment, help them manufacture a couple of precision parts, but always make sure that they maintain full ownership of their design, their robot, and their team.

One of the great things about FIRST is that you can have over 1000 teams given the same task and the same kit of parts, yet you wind up with 1000 completely unique robots. I'm not going to condemn teams who have chosen this route in the past, but let's keep it as the exception, not the rule.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:30 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

I love the whole idea of collaborating on funds and leadership structure. But its the robot part i can see you collaborating by helping them design and build things but duplicating the same robot isn't the way to do it in my opinion. you could give them the same color scheme and name them similarly to let peole know your working together. but the best part of this competition is going to a competition and seeing all the different designs and how they work.
and if everyone make triplets and twins and so on it will continue and we'll never see truly unique robots there will always be copies. . just like chain stores taking over local business's like every restaurant you see will be a mcdonalds theres no unique places. so if everybody starts building duplicate robots we lose the individuality of the game.

i like the idea of collaboration just not on everything
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:34 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahecht
If you are so keen on assisting "helpless" rookies by doing their work for them, why not take a page from Team 190's book. Invite students from local school who do not have a team to join yours for a year. Work with them on [i
your [/i]team. They will be getting he same experience as if they cloned your team, without clogging FIRST with carbon copies and crowding events with duplicate teams (plus you save on a second registration). The next year, they can go on to start their own teams with the benefit of a year's worth of experience. Once they start a team, mentor them, but don't coddle them.
Team 1114 is actually in the process of doing this already. We have our "virtual team". Notre Dame SS is the midst of their virtual season. They attended our brainstorming sessions, and have been coming to our competitions as well. We've donated our old KOPs to them, and they're slowing building their own robot, under the guidance of our mentors and students. Their goal is to have their own robot ready to compete in this fall's Canada's Wonderland Invitational. After completing this virtual season, they'll be ready to jump into 2007.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth Sweet
Perhaps as a part of this challenge, NiagaraFIRST can create some sort of presentation, packet or guide for other teams to follow in order to start a similar program.
This will be an off-season project for the team.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:37 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by pathew100
I agree with Ken. It's hard to remember but FIRST isn't about a robot competition. The competition is the just celebration of your accomplishment.

Collaboration can help when resources aren't there but the other teams need to be actively involved in all aspects, not just handed a design or a kitbot to put together.

Real learning takes place when you have to overcome hard obstacles and challenges. Having a winning robot is nice but I would rather be a 'loser' and have the students on my team learn as much as they possibly can. That's just my opinion.
Please don't misunderstand my vision. I'm ONLY pitching collaboration when without it there would be NO team. I'm looking to get teams started that wouldn't have the guts to take the chance without it. If a school takes the initiative to start a team on their own because they have the resources and the support -- then that's great. They may not need a collaborative approach. No one should get handed a design that they don't need or want. I also don't believe in doing the work and handing it to them. Collaboration is defined by Mirriam-Webster as "to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor". Collaboration is PARTICIPATIVE.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 12:38 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

We talked to a team in Las Vegas and next year there will be another team with a 25 drive train lol. The west coast may never be the same.

Shaun

we are not going to build it for them we just gave them our drawings and they are going to try to reproduce it.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 01:04 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Stephen, you know that I respect you and the team. I am also known to be against collaboration. I will admit that the triplets have improved and that there has been more student involvement. I will admit that there has been a lot of inspiration from your robots.

However I have seen only 1 robot for the past 2 years. I have not seen the inspired students and schools splitting off to form their own teams. These are the things that need to be addressed. If every team was sent a copy of plans and had all of the machining done so that they just needed to assemble, would there still be inspiration. If GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan etc shared and built from the same plans were would the diversity come from? How do we stimulate creative juices if we do not think individually. Many teams mentor other teams but do not build the same robot. The creativity is shown with individual accomplishments that inspire. We also learn from our mistakes and those of others.

I believe that we must stand out and be seen. We need to inspire others to exceed our potential, to use their own creativity and ideas. Heck to coin a famous phase " To boldly go were no man has gone before". This is FIRST. Is there anything wrong with a lot of strong teams staying together and being the best? That I cannot answer but I know that eventually all of the "Mom and Pop" teams will disappear as they will be unable to compete against the mega teams.

I work in a field that specializing on products is slowly increasing. This has caused the problem of narrow areas of knowledge and abilities have become diminished. We should be doing the exact opposite. Expanding our areas of knowledge and abilities. By doing this I believe that we can find new and exciting solutions.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 01:38 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Guys I see this thread somewhat slowly turning into yet another dumpster of is collabaration a good thing or bad. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone for this, but while reading Stephens' post remember that this would be for rookies or for say a team that has just lost thier major sponsor. These teams could always use help.

Also do we go around and pick apart Dean's homework? No the reason is because we understand that it is important. As I believe the things that Stephen point out are important. Never should an idea be ridiculed, because ideas are exactly that just an idea.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 01:56 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Just handing a school a robot design isn't a good idea. If I were starting a new team and knew that another local team wanted to give us some designs for drive trains and manipulators, I would have to decline. Helping us with brainstorming, designing, and fund raising I would gladly accept. We would need to be our own team, which the triplets all are. I think having a unique design, not just in the robot, is what would get people interested more.

Also having students from other schools come and be apart of your team until they get enough support is great, We are currently doing that with Furitport and Zeeland High schools. Furitport is about 45 Min's north of us, and they don't have enough interest from sponsors to start a team. When a team does get started there we will help them with anything they need.

Collaborating with other teams on how to play the game, on where to go for competitions, on a problem they are having, and all the other things besides the robot should be done. I would like to see the local Holland and Zeeland teams get together and go too all the same regionals. This would establish that we work with each other, but we would all have different robots. We need teams helping each other, why do you think there's a Sportsmanship award. Helping other teams is #1 on the list of FIRST, because spreading FIRST and getting kids interested is #1 and helping other teams does just that.

Working together is great, we have all said that, But a team has to have it's own identity. I'm know it sounds like I'm bashing collaboration, but I'm not. I'm all for it, to some degree. Anyhoo, lets not make this a bashing discussion, because that get us nowhere.
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Unread 04-07-2006, 02:11 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Stephen, you have many good ideas in your pitch for collaboration among teams. Helping to start new teams and keep existing teams in the game is a very important task, and anything that would assist teams is a winner by my books. However, let's not forget that old mantra about "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime."

I am not against total collaboration, but if two or three teams decide to work they should also each still have some autonomy. I would actively encourage the teachers / engineers / parents of the teams to try to help each other, but let each team still create their own ideas. Once each team has their own ideas, let the other team(s) conduct a "peer-review" where each team can critique the other team's ideas to help refine them. This way, you still have teams collorabating and you will still end up with two or three different robots.

Creativity, not cloning, is the mother lode of successful innovention. (And yes, I just combined invention and innovation into one word. )

And after all, what fun would the competition be if we had 1000 indentical robots?
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Unread 04-07-2006, 02:12 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve W
... I know that eventually all of the "Mom and Pop" teams will disappear as they will be unable to compete against the mega teams.
This is the single greatest reason that I'm still "Watching and Waiting". I know, I know. It's not about the robots, and it's not supposed to be fair. But I enjoy competing. The students I've worked with in the past enjoyed competing. If FIRST is to become a competition for some and merely an exhibition event for others, then it's just not for me. I'm extremely discouraged to see the direction FIRST has taken regarding manufacturing alliances.
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-Joel
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