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Unread 04-25-2010, 07:13 AM
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gvarndell gvarndell is offline
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Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Has 341 raised the chairman's bar so high as to represent a disincentive to even compete for it?
Or have they simply shown the rest of us how it's done?

side-note:
I'm very impressed that international efforts are part of Miss Daisy's resume.
I dream of the day when great world cities compete for the honor of hosting world champs.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 07:52 AM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

This is a good question to think about. I'm sure there are many teams out there who don't bother compiling a Chairman's Award submission because they feel they have absolutely no chance at ever winning.

Honestly, we used to feel that way as well. We used to joke that we will never win the Chairman's Award, because as a team we haven't had to overcome a major obstacle (We are blessed to have an amazing group of students from a private school, and we are sponsored by a wonderful Major sponsor, AND we have -in my own opinion- the greatest engineers as mentors) and so the bar is set high for us. Yet, we have had our own internal struggles at times, and in the past our community outreach was at a minimum.

Over the past couple years, our Chairman's effort was launched into a much higher level than it ever was before, due to an awesome group of kids who started to believe that it was important! For the past two years, we've won districts and states Chairman's. It's been wonderful.

And yet, we still felt that we were missing something. We're getting there, we're competitors, but we're still not quite there.

Now, we have a new philosophy.

We are no longer going to compete for the Chairman's Award.
Winning this award soley so we can become a Hall of Fame team is not our goal.
We aren't looking for the prestige and recognition of what we accomplish.
We've decided that isn't what participating in the Chairman's Award is all about.

Instead, we're looking to spread the message that FIRST has taught all of us: That science and technology is cool! That they create jobs! That people can do this stuff and making a living having fun!

Instead, we're looking to help our community around us. Yes, there's a lot of talk about FIRST in Michigan...one of the reasons why we like it so much is that it saves us money. Something that EVERYONE in Michigan needs right now. And we feel that participating in a program like FIRST, in which we need to get sponsors and funding and ask the community to donate to us, brings about a responsibility to help the community in turn. So, we participate in events like the Pontiac Hunger Walk (May 1).

Will we compile a Chairman's presentation/paper/video? Of course! And we'll still hope that we win. But, are we compiling this together for the purpose of competing to win? Not anymore.

And...actually...we've found that it's a lot easier and more fun this way. We're still competitors for the award...but when you focus your goal to make an impact on the community, you find that is a much bigger reward than the blue banner you crave.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 08:11 AM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

The bar is set pretty high, but doesn't mean we still won't try and continue to do everything we do to better the community we live in. It's not about winning, its about making the world a better place.




The running gag on our team is next year as part of our chairman's effort is we are all donating kidneys and adopting children from 3rd world countries.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 08:22 AM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

I have believed that the most important thing about the Chairmans award is what you get out of the process. It is great to win of course but that is not the thing that should drive teams. The fact that we are forced to look at our team yearly and say "What have we done this year?" keeps us on track. The team that I am on is not a large team ( average 30 ) but we have a team to be proud of. The kids start with VEX and mentor the new students on the team in how to build. At the same time they are going to the grade schools in our area and mentoring the kids in Lego. This stretches our team a lot but the kids do it without any help from the mentors.

There are times that we do community events but not to win awards but because the kids feel that it is important. They are proud to show their team colors when doing it. They do demos for TV, the Premier, other schools and anywhere that they are invited. They are always willing to give others a hand before, during and after build season.

When they look back on what the team has done in the past ten years they see a legacy that they all want to improve on and continue. The amount of teams, volunteers, mentors, RWFA and WFA that have come from this team is inspiring in itself. The fact that when they do the submission they see how FIRST has impacted so many lives and that they are continuing the great work started so many years ago makes them want to do better. Not for the medal but for others.

The Chairmans award should be done by all teams every year. Even past winners should be looking back at how they got there and what are they doing now to retain that level of excellence.

It's not about a team having lots of money to spend to travel the world to share FIRST but how the team draws the world into their FIRST experience.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 11:47 AM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

There can be a fine line between intimidation and inspiration when it come to the elite in FIRST. Those teams who have committed to setting the bar for excellence in ways that change the culture, help to draw that line and deepen it.

Just as not every team is destined for Einstein, not every team is destined for the Championship Chairman's Award. Does that mean they should quit making inroads of change in their team and in their community? Does that mean they should cap their potential? Does that mean that inspiration is limited to an award? No.

Does it mean that teams should assess their efforts each year and perhaps, realign and adjust their goals to match their progress? Yes. Does that mean that teams will change as they season and develop? Yes. Does that mean that as teams season and develop that so does their potential for impact and changing the culture by - increasing? Absolutely.

Where is the reward in this? In the students who move on to graduate and carry the team development and the inspiration they've received - with them.

If Miss Daisy's achievement - after several attempts - becomes a disincentive, then that reaction would be the total opposite of what 341 or ANY of the Hall Of Fame teams would want, desire, or hope for. They would want teams to continue to dig in, inspire, bring change, and - document it, with the potential opportunity of garnering a Championship Chairman's.

Jane

Edit: To be clear - I meant that every team who submits for Chairman's will not win the Championship Chairman's. It is my personal philosophy that every FRC team that qualifies should submit for the Chairman's Award and the Woodie Flowers Award. It is also very rewarding for rookies to submit for the Rookie All Star. The journey is full of win.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:00 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

I am having a corny morning
So consider this fair warning:


It is uninspiring to catch,
A bar without a stretch.

Only Dreamers dare to go,
To levels they don't know.

So if the bar is still in sight,
Then height is set just right.

Great job to the Hall of Famers
Who found their moments to shine.

You will never find yours
If your wanting "To get mine."

Each year it gets more difficult
And thus more prestigous to win.

Most of us need to be ok
With stretching as "Our End".

********
I forget who posted this in another Chairman's thread, but this is a great question to ask yourself and worth repeating often throughout the year. "If they no longer gave out the award, would you still be doing what you are doing?" They were not referring to the documentation (although that is important too), but the actions that your team is doing. It is OK to say "no". I probably wouldn't have tried certain things, but after doing so, I am glad that we did them. I think that is why they give the award. As an incentive for us to try (and document) new things, and for the bar to exist that we are stretching to reach.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:08 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolyn_Grace View Post
...
Now, we have a new philosophy.

We are no longer going to compete for the Chairman's Award.
Winning this award soley so we can become a Hall of Fame team is not our goal.
We aren't looking for the prestige and recognition of what we accomplish.
We've decided that isn't what participating in the Chairman's Award is all about.

Instead, we're looking to spread the message that FIRST has taught all of us: That science and technology is cool! That they create jobs! That people can do this stuff and making a living having fun!

...
That is the corner to turn! Service before self. Who will be next?
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:12 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gvarndell View Post
Has 341 raised the chairman's bar so high as to represent a disincentive to even compete for it?
Or have they simply shown the rest of us how it's done?

side-note:
I'm very impressed that international efforts are part of Miss Daisy's resume.
I dream of the day when great world cities compete for the honor of hosting world champs.
I think the fact that it took this long for Miss Daisy to win the Chairman's Award speaks volume to how much the top tier Chairman's teams do every year. They've been deserving off this award for as long as I've been involved in FRC (2004), yet they didn't win it until this year! One year they didn't even win the RCA! Clearly there are many teams doing incredibly impressive things.

If awards are a concern, I don't think it would be out of reach to ramp up an RCA winning program over the course of a student's high school career. Would it be a lot of work? Absolutely. But think of the benefits those kids (and the ones they involve through their extracurricular work). In the near term, it seems like it'd be some pretty slam dunk college application material, and the long term results are probably too numerous to count.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:13 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

This is actually an interesting point. Also one I have a little bit of personal experience with. This year was my team's first year submitting Chairman's at the Championship (second year presenting the award overall). And, throughout the presentation process, I noticed many things:
  • Last year, we submitted in Hartford. Because it was only our first year, we were just looking for feedback. However, many (if not all) teams there seemed to have the same mindset when I talked to them "Oh, it's going to be 236. It's not even a contest."
  • After Atlanta last year, many people on many CT teams (ours included, truth me told myself included a little bit...not that I'm proud of this), were happy for 236. Not so much that they won, but that now other CT teams actually had a chance to submit.
  • As I was working on our Chairman's binder on the way to the WPI regioanl this year, one of our mentors asked me what I thought. I told him I was unsure, but we may have had a slight chance to at least make an impression. He then asked me what planet I lived on.
  • In the hotel in Atlanta, when our Chairman's presenters were going over our presentation, we seemed to get off task a lot. A few times I tried to get us back into focus, to which they responded "We're not going to win anyway, why does it matter?"

The Chairman's award is known as the most prestigious award in FIRST. It doesn't award a team that builds a good robot, nor a team that does a million and a half things for the community and the world. It's about being a model for other teams to emulate: finding a balance that all teams can celebrate and appreciate. However, it does create an insane amount of pressure of teams. But not the teams that do end up winning Chairman's. Rather, the pressure it put upon the teams that aren't at full Chairman's caliber...yet. They see what other teams have done and either become discouraged because they assume that they can't do the things other teams do. Or they become inspired to do better than those teams. Neither of these should be occurring. A team should see a Chairman's winner and feel the same way that we want kids to see when we demo for them, "I want to do that when I grow up."

That being said, kids don't just decide they want to build robots then build the next Einstein champion the next year. They tinker, they experiment, they get feedback, they learn. Yes, it's frustrating at times because it may seem like there's always the kid that can do it better and faster, but it will come.

Like Jane said, not every team is ready to submit Chairman's right away. They need to tinker and learn and get feedback for themselves. But, if we want to show kids that we're good role models for them, we first have to prove to ourselves that we can appreciate other good role models- not compete with them.

Congratulations to team 341, your work is nothing short of what I want to do when I grow up.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:21 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Yes, Miss Daisy set the bar high. However, this shouldn't deter people from submitting for the Chairman's Award, it should inspire them to see what a big difference one team can make. As with most teams, my team started our community outreach programs a few years ago because we saw a need in the community. There was no thought of Chairman's associated with our activities partially because we knew we had no chance compared to some of the amazing teams in our area. Three seasons after we began doing significant outreach work, we finally convinced the team to work on the Chairman's Award because of the value of the process. It's an amazing and inspiring experience to be a part of compiling the stories necessary to submit for the Chairman's essays. Different talents are used, it gets everyone involved in a new way, and it passes on important values and pieces of team history to a new generation of students each year. Once we embraced the Chairman's Award submission for the process, rather than for the sake of winning the award, we benefited so much more from it. This is the beauty of the Chairman's Award- you don't have to be the Championship Chairman's Award winner to benefit from the work you put into it. Everyone gains something from being a part of the process. I'm really proud of the students on my team for changing their attitude towards Chairman's and winning, because they've gained so much from putting together a submission for the past two years.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:40 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

I think that the greatest thing that Bausch + Lomb sponsorship brought to 1551 is the requirement that we strive to win the chairman's award every year...

We're a tiny school in the middle of nowhere with a fraction of the students/mentors compared to the teams we're competing against, we have some interesting limitations (for example, we are only allowed to do two -- limited -- fundraisers a year by our school so that we don't take too much from the other extracurriculars), and I honestly think that we don't have a snowball's chance in aitch-ee-double-hockeysticks of ever winning. But trying to win makes us a better team every year.

Not pretending to try to win. Not inventing silly shenanigans that will make us look better but that's all. But actually doing things that make our team better, our program stronger, and the experience richer.

And that's fantastic.

So the bar is set insanely high. Probably unachievably high for some of us. But what a shame it would be to lower it.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 12:55 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Do I think the bar is too high? I think impossible dreams and lofty goals are a key part of FIRST; the "top" being extremely far away only pushes people farther. The only people that would be "pushed away" from the Chairman's Award because it was given to 341 would be teams that were so full of themselves to think that they were "almost there" when they still have a ways to go. Everyone else, with a realistic and grounded view of themselves, knows that they were not at that level, and hopefully are now working to reach it.

I'm beginning to wonder though, if "Winning Championship Chairman's" is a realistic goal for any team made in the last 5-10 years anymore. The "line" of extremely successful Chairman's teams is so, so long, that even if everyone was stopped right now from doing any more Chairman's work, you'd take 10 Championships to award it to all of the many teams that deserve it. It's a little depressing that if you start a real push for Chairman's when you're a student, you can guarantee yourself that your team will not win it in your high school career.

Just my thoughts.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 01:27 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kjolana1124 View Post
In the hotel in Atlanta, when our Chairman's presenters were going over our presentation, we seemed to get off task a lot. A few times I tried to get us back into focus, to which they responded "We're not going to win anyway, why does it matter?"
And this is what I'm preparing myself for -- to help inspire kids who I fear may be intimidated by the enormity of the Miss Daisy win.
As I sat and listened to what Daisy had done, where they did it, etc., I was humbled.
I felt like -- jeesh, these guys are akin to a global conglomerate and we're just a bunch of hayseeds on a beer budget from Western Maryland.
Kids are extremely competitive.
They don't like pursuing unattainable goals.

Clearly, keeping them focused on the ideals rather than the award is the right thing to do -- as all responders have pointed out.
I hope nobody read anything other that into my post.
I am awe of Daisy and I want our kids to be inspired by them -- not intimidated.
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Unread 04-25-2010, 01:31 PM
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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gblake View Post
That is the corner to turn! Service before self. Who will be next?
Teams all over the world. They have been doing this.

Jane
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Excellence is contagious. ~ Andy Baker, President, AndyMark, Inc. and Woodie Flowers Award 2003

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
~ Helen Keller
(1880-1968)

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Re: Chairman's Award -- is the bar too high now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gvarndell View Post
Clearly, keeping them focused on the ideals rather than the award is the right thing to do -- as all responders have pointed out.
I hope nobody read anything other that into my post.
I am awe of Daisy and I want our kids to be inspired by them -- not intimidated.
I know that it's a really hard lesson to explain. You're right, kids are competitive. It might take a while for them to catch on, but it will happen. Eventually they will "get it", and they will pursue Chairman's for the benefit of their community and themselves through the process. I don't think there's any one right way to pass this concept on. You know the students you're working with the best- try and find something that will strike a chord with them.
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