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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:05 PM
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Question The Meaning of FIRST

Hello,

I am a junior on team 2137 and have been involved in FIRST since I was on an FLL team in 2008. We recently had our first competition of the year at Waterford and did ok. On our second day of the competetion, me and my dad went in early because i had some work to do with my code. We moved into the cafeteria and I started debugging the code and adjusting things. After a while, some mentors came in and sat down at a table and began talking. They talked of things that needed to change, which I have no problem with, and how they could improve it. The part that i had a problem with was when a mentor started talking about what HE had changed, and what HE had did, which bugged me. It also bugged me that the team won an award for their programming.

This brings up a question.
Is this your team? Is winning more important than learning? Is it really helping inspire or teach students? So please mentors, let us do all the work, Its better that way. Maybe you too can win the award titled "I dont do anything" like our programming mentor did.

Sincerely, A Peeved Programmer
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:20 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Quote:
Originally Posted by WMFlip16 View Post
So please mentors, let us do all the work, Its better that way.
Please be VERY, VERY, VERY careful about how you say this. I may agree that it may need to be said at times and places, but in general the saying of it tends to produce a very nasty flame war. Particularly when it is phrased in the general format of "I was at a competition and heard someone on another team say or observed another team doing". Particularly if it is relatively simple to figure out which team it was.


Signed,
A Person Who Has Seen the Above Happen.

P.S. I do suggest looking at FIRST's Vision and Mission statements, which are available on their site under "About Us". A short look may suggest that FIRST does not necessarily consider it better that the students do all the work, and will in addition answer some possible questions about the meaning of FIRST.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:37 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

What Eric said.

Inspiration and recognition does not equal "advanced shop class". What's better for your team is not better for all teams. Remember that.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:11 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Just a note, there are 2,534 teams registered and competing in FRC this year. That means that there are 2,533 teams being run in a manner entirely different than your own.

Quote:
"it's not my team therefore it's not my right, responsibility, or job to judge how they operate"
Being inspired is a lot like learning, not everybody does it the same way.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:29 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Last year in the pits I asked a good team how they programmed a certain aspect of their bot, and they didn't have a clue. I sincerely don't think they even knew what language they were programming in. How is this even possible?
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:31 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Quote:
Originally Posted by JM033 View Post
Last year in the pits I asked a good team how they programmed a certain aspect of their bot, and they didn't have a clue. I sincerely don't think they even knew what language they were programming in. How is this even possible?
You may have asked the mechanical subteam. Maybe the electrical subteam, though they could be reasonably expected to know at least the language. Programming, by nature, can be done almost anywhere (testing cannot, for some strange reason), so it's entirely possible the programmers were elsewhere and not available to answer the question.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:34 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Quote:
Originally Posted by WMFlip16 View Post

...Is this your team? Is winning more important than learning? Is it really helping inspire or teach students?....
Winning is important.
Learning is important.
Inspiring students is important.
Teaching Students is important.

Figuring out how to do all of these at the same time, in my opinion, is the meaning of FIRST.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:36 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricH View Post
You may have asked the mechanical subteam. Maybe the electrical subteam, though they could be reasonably expected to know at least the language. Programming, by nature, can be done almost anywhere (testing cannot, for some strange reason), so it's entirely possible the programmers were elsewhere and not available to answer the question.
Although you could be right, I'm pretty sure I asked the programmers. They were in front of their laptops fiddling around with usb/ethernet cables..don't think they were mechanical.

Last edited by JM033 : 03-20-2013 at 11:38 PM.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:36 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Flame suits - Engage!

Seriously though, this type of thread has been done ad nauseum here. Bottom line: HQ doesn't care how the inspiration happens.

If your team inspires by:
-Having students build the robot
-Having mentors build the robot
-Having students and mentors work together to build the robot. (Hint: this one is usually the most effective)

FIRST doesn't care how you do it. Just inspire people, build a brighter future. Be the change this world needs. FIRST isn't about building robots. Its about building people, and not just when they're high school students either.

Last edited by Racer26 : 03-20-2013 at 11:42 PM.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:49 PM
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Cool Re: The Meaning of FIRST

This whole argument is unhealthy, but I am going to be hypocritical and argue my point none the less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JM033 View Post
Last year in the pits I asked a good team how they programmed a certain aspect of their bot, and they didn't have a clue. I sincerely don't think they even knew what language they were programming in. How is this even possible?
You are so quick to judge an entire team based on the knowledge of a few members. I know absolutely nothing about programming, because I do CAD, Machining, Strategy, and Chairman's. There are not enough hours in the week for me to understand programming (and I just don't like it). Perhaps the team you were talking to only had mechanical students in the pits, or their programmers were having a meeting somewhere else in the building. I don't think it's fair nor productive to challenge said team's success or build process with such limited information.

Actually, even if you had more information I'm not sure you can judge the students for not programming. If there is a team of 10 students and none want to program or have interest in programming, should this team not use other resources in order to have the most successful robot possible?

I did not mean to offend, but sounded very offensive. I believe that the time effort and emotion put into a robot justifies its method of creation. As a senior who only had two years with FIRST, I understand the importance of inspiration, but also hope I can continue to take an active role in a team in the future despite my age or field of interest. Generally every team has a reason for its structure, and finds the solution it has for a reason, and not by pure accident.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:53 PM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

I'm going to go back and address one of the OP's statements again. I know I commented on it before, but I think it's worth addressing again, in a slightly different context.

"So please mentors, let us do all the work" is the part I want to address this time.

First, having a case where a student does all the work may not always be practical. Just... trust me on this. I see it in a number of places and ways.

But second... Students, STEP UP! Show us you're ready to do as much of the work as we'll let you, and teach other students while you do it. Then, I would say that most if not all mentors will step back, and let the new mentors take over (and by new mentors, I do mean the students!). Push the mentors gently out of the way if needed.
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Unread 03-21-2013, 12:05 AM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST


If there is a team of 10 students and none want to program or have interest in programming, should this team not use other resources in order to have the most successful robot possible
?

No, they already have enough adequate resources. Coming from a team with 2 programmers, I believe even 4 programmers is a fair amount. Why would one like to join the programming subteam if they didn't even have any interest? If you need more resources because you are unable to provide ANYTHING yourself, it's just pure laziness and unwillingness then. You wouldn't learn anything if you had others do your work for you. This team had adequate amount of programmers, but seemed to fail to use them for the "success of a great bot".
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Unread 03-21-2013, 12:29 AM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Quote:
Originally Posted by WMFlip16 View Post
Hello,

I am a junior on team 2137 and have been involved in FIRST since I was on an FLL team in 2008. We recently had our first competition of the year at Waterford and did ok. On our second day of the competetion, me and my dad went in early because i had some work to do with my code. We moved into the cafeteria and I started debugging the code and adjusting things. After a while, some mentors came in and sat down at a table and began talking. They talked of things that needed to change, which I have no problem with, and how they could improve it. The part that i had a problem with was when a mentor started talking about what HE had changed, and what HE had did, which bugged me. It also bugged me that the team won an award for their programming.

This brings up a question.
Is this your team? Is winning more important than learning? Is it really helping inspire or teach students? So please mentors, let us do all the work, Its better that way. Maybe you too can win the award titled "I dont do anything" like our programming mentor did.

Sincerely, A Peeved Programmer

Mentoring has a couple different facets. We can do, we can show, or we can guide. Which is best is based on the mentor's style of mentoring, the students' style of learning, and the task at hand.

Now, my personal style is very heavy show/guide and very little do. I have not written a line of code for 79's robot this year. What I have done is handled much of the systems engineering and project management for our software team. Why do I mention this? Because there are some tasks that students simply aren't ready to undertake. I trust my students to manage their own tasks, to write effective code, and work together to accomplish tasks. I don't expect them to have a detailed understanding of how the mechanical and electrical systems on the robot work or the best sensor for a task. As such we work in a partnership, I do my part. They do theirs. Together we achieve our goals.

Sincerely, A (proud) Member of a Software Team
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Unread 03-21-2013, 12:43 AM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

I've read many threads on this topic but never commented, for various reasons, but I feel I can respond to this particular thread because I feel the title lends itself to my point.

The Meaning of FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

FIRST is not about teaching, it's not about learning, it's not about educating and it's not about instructing. It is a program whose main focus is on inspiring students. Inspiration is literally the name of the game.

Now, i'm not saying that learning doesn't happen. In fact I believe I personally have learned more during my participation in FIRST then in many of my classes, but that's a happy side effect and not the main goal.
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Unread 03-21-2013, 12:59 AM
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Re: The Meaning of FIRST

Quote:
Originally Posted by JM033 View Post

If there is a team of 10 students and none want to program or have interest in programming, should this team not use other resources in order to have the most successful robot possible
?

No, they already have enough adequate resources. Coming from a team with 2 programmers, I believe even 4 programmers is a fair amount. Why would one like to join the programming subteam if they didn't even have any interest? If you need more resources because you are unable to provide ANYTHING yourself, it's just pure laziness and unwillingness then. You wouldn't learn anything if you had others do your work for you. This team had adequate amount of programmers, but seemed to fail to use them for the "success of a great bot".
J and OP, you don't know the full story.

Mentoring is HARD. Even if you come from being on an FRC team in high school and then mentor, it is incredibly hard for any mentor to judge and gauge when and where they need to step in to get something done.

I personally no longer care who does what on a team because it is not my place to judge. I used to say the same things as you until I started mentoring. Don't be so quick to judge, once you (if you do) begin to mentor a team, you will also learn how difficult a task it is to know when to step in and when you need to let students or some aspect of the robot fail in order to teach the students.

With that said, I always dislike these threads because people don't fully think things through before making the thread. It is always easy to quickly get upset about a perceived situation, but take the time to think things out before judging a team.
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