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Unread 04-20-2007, 08:38 PM
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Starting a FLL program

My team is interested in starting up an FLL program at our local middle schools, but we're concerned about the cost factor in registering teams. We don't have enough money to afford to pay the registration fee for all of the kids that may want to be involved, nor do we want to pay $600 to sign up kids that aren't really interested. We have had some ideas to gauge the interest of the kids, such as hosting a mini-tournament sometime during the beginning of the school year where the winners get to join an FLL team paid for by our sponsors, but I was wondering how your teams deal with paying for the kids, making sure they're interested etc. etc.
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Unread 04-20-2007, 08:49 PM
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Kyle Kyle is offline
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Re: Starting a program

It is truly a great thing that you are doing FLL is one of the best things to bring into a school.

Here is the contact infomation for the people who head FLL in the Delaware area and they are very good at helping teams and programs.
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Unread 04-21-2007, 09:16 AM
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Re: Starting a program

There are some good FLL teams in Wisconsin. You might contact them to see how they handle recruitment, retention and commitment of team members.

While you may not have the resources currently to fund an FLL team, you may be able to jointly (between you and the FLL team) find a new sponsor. Many local businesses - stores, banks/credit unions, small professional firms, etc. - would be able to sponsor a team for $1000 or $2000 without breaking a sweat. While that amount gets lost in the "noise" for many FRC teams, it is a major factor for FLL. The FLL team and small sponsor will have a meaningful relationship. The FLL team should also do some of their own fundraising so they feel owners of their team, not just participants. That will help with the commitment and retention of members.
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Unread 04-21-2007, 12:22 PM
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Re: Starting a program

Quote:
Originally Posted by k4r3n2 View Post
My team is interested in starting up an FLL program at our local middle schools, but we're concerned about the cost factor in registering teams. We don't have enough money to afford to pay the registration fee for all of the kids that may want to be involved, nor do we want to pay $600 to sign up kids that aren't really interested. We have had some ideas to gauge the interest of the kids, such as hosting a mini-tournament sometime during the beginning of the school year where the winners get to join an FLL team paid for by our sponsors, but I was wondering how your teams deal with paying for the kids, making sure they're interested etc. etc.
I would encourage you to start by contacting your local affiliate partners for FLL in your state. (I am guessing you are in WI but would be great if you could add your state after "Deerfield"
http://www.usfirst.org/contact.aspx?id=3016

How FLL tournaments are planned and run is left up to the local committees. There may be a group in your area that would already be a great resource for you. I get calls and emails every week from people that want to start/join a team and we have worked out a system here to give them the information they need to move forward. I would guess it is the same in your geographic area. They may already know of interest in your area.

Keep in mind that registration open May 1 and will close late Aug/early Sept. FIRST will be capping growth this year. If these are school-based teams, you want to work out the details before the end of school.
Hope this helps!
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Unread 04-26-2007, 10:48 PM
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Re: Starting a program

Oops, sorry, we're in Illinois, right by Wildstang, actually, who we're going to meet with as soon as possible. We're still working out the details, though - does FIRST have a projected time for when the slots will be filled for next year? We're debating whether to register two or three teams and then find kids or to hold off on registering until we have solid commitments...
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Unread 04-27-2007, 08:47 AM
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Re: Starting a program

I'm not an FLL person, but here are some things that seems to have been working in FRC as far as choosing kids that are more likely to be engauged and stay with the team:

*Bringing kids to off-season events, even just to spectate, and have them fill out a questionaire afterward. Also, guage engagment reactivity level of each student at the event
*Do some hands-on building projects off-season. Our FRC kids play with VEX off-season. We invite other kids not on our team to play with them, just for the experience. From the level of engagment, we can see which kids are serious. This can be modeled for FLL by using legos off-season in place of VEX in my example.
*Have a strict participation policy. For instance xxx hours per month or per week, and as soon as kids start to fall behind, enforce your policy, always.
*Have a strict behavior policy. Any screw-ups gone. Period. Make sure that this is always enforced, or the whole system will fall apart.

These are just some ideas. I can think of some for that we use if you would like. I have to go to class now though.

Jacob
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Unread 04-27-2007, 09:03 AM
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Al Skierkiewicz Al Skierkiewicz is offline
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Re: Starting a program

Quote:
Originally Posted by k4r3n2 View Post
My team is interested in starting up an FLL program at our local middle schools, but we're concerned about the cost factor in registering teams.
Guys,
Have Herb give me a call or email and I will help in any way I can. I have worked with Holmes Middle School FLL in Wheeling for several years now. In order to separate out the interested students and parents, each student must complete an application and a $20 registration fee. The money shows that there is interest from the parents and it covers the cost of tshirts. The application gives us an idea of the student's abilities and interest. I know where you can apply for some seed money and I can put you in touch with several people who are the state planning committee and part of Incite Illinois, the FLL foundation here in Illinois.
You can register a few spots and if you can't fill them, other school or teams would look to taking them off your hands. We have had several teams who have given up registrations in September or october that they were not using. I can come over and talk to interested parents and teachers anytime.
Just let me know.
Al
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Last edited by Al Skierkiewicz : 04-27-2007 at 09:05 AM.
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Unread 04-27-2007, 09:25 AM
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Re: Starting a program

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Skierkiewicz View Post
Guys,
each student must complete an application .... The application gives us an idea of the student's abilities and interest.
Oh yeah, I forgot about this! We have a large (10 page) application that students must complete. This definitely tells us how enthusiastic students are about participating. I would definitely recommend this.

Jacob
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Unread 05-28-2007, 09:48 PM
Evenstar_342 Evenstar_342 is offline
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Re: Starting a program

Having worked with a homeschooled FLL team for the past five years, we've faced many of the same challenges. The technical college we're partnered with runs LEGO robotics summer camps so we've been able to get interested students from the participants and we also publicize the team's need for students through out the homeschool community. We always get lots of reponses and try to favor those with past experience in robotics or strong interest in math and science. We keep the team half female and half male. We find that at a young age, the girls are more focused and become our best table runners, but that the boys are very good at focusing at the detailed oriented, small building challenges. Its always also great to have both girls and boys working together (with homeschoolers it also brings the added benefits of teaching teamworking, since many homeschoolers never get an opportunity to work on a long-term project in a group).

I know some people might not like me saying this, but Wal*Mart has been great to us. We've always gotten a lot of money from community grants their schools give out. We sent out a general letter with a budget plan and pictures of kids (of all races, ethnicities, and economic strata) and explain the positive effects of FLL and FIRST on students. We've also gotten money from Publix (a local supermarket chain) and a local software company. It is crucial to have non profit status for the team, either by itself or through a sponsor such as a school district.

Having a demo of FLL robots may help attract interest. Don't start training too early before the season, we started three months early one year and burned everyone out. We start normally in late August. I think its great that you are trying to start a new team. I hope you have as much fun/grey hair/inspiration as we've had. The season is a great time. Hope this helps!
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Unread 05-29-2007, 10:10 AM
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RoboMom RoboMom is offline
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Re: Starting a program

Quote:
Originally Posted by k4r3n2 View Post
Oops, sorry, we're in Illinois, right by Wildstang, actually, who we're going to meet with as soon as possible. We're still working out the details, though - does FIRST have a projected time for when the slots will be filled for next year? We're debating whether to register two or three teams and then find kids or to hold off on registering until we have solid commitments...
FLL is capping growth, first come, first serve. That means not just who has registered, but who has paid will get their kits first. Right now, projections are early September for ending registration. There will also be a separate cost for your tournament (not included in the FLL registration.)

Again, I would encourage you to ask lots of questions of your local FLL committee and get into your local network as soon as possible, as well as using the resources mentioned here.
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Unread 05-29-2007, 11:08 AM
EHaskins EHaskins is offline
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Re: Starting a program

Last year I coached two FLL teams(1192 & 1193). I didn't do any screening, and I would not recommend you do that. Between the two teams over 40 students were at the first meeting, and about ten of them were a group of friends, who all seemed to have psychological problems. During the season six of the students were suspended, and one couldn't come to the competition because he was having a expulsion hearing. We did have grade/attendance requirements, so those students were not allowed to return.

After the first two weeks most of the problem students were gone, and I had a good group. I had several of the computer, math, and science teachers recommending students which really help raise awareness of the program.

In previous years we were able to setup a summer school class where we could teach new members how to build/program with LEGO, and get them interested in FLL. In our school district almost anyone could run a class, and what they pay the instructor would more than cover the cost an FLL team.

I'm guessing its a little late to do that now, but its definitely something to look into.

EDIT: Our total cost last year for TWO teams was approx. $500 registration + field kit, $600 2 Educational NXT kits, $100 snacks for at meetings = $1200 + transportation costs.

If you have any questions PM/E-mail/IM(all in my profile) me.
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Last edited by EHaskins : 05-29-2007 at 11:13 AM.
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