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Unread 12-29-2005, 02:06 PM
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Havergal College Robotics Team
AKA: Tracy, Amanda and Katrina
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School Problems

Unfortunately, our school (Havergal College in Toronto, Canada) does not fully understand FIRST or appreciate it as much as our team. This year, we aren't doing the FRC. Recently, we've also had a conflict with them concerning power tools, which they won't let us use anymore. This means that we can't build for fun like we had originally planned to do. This also means that we may not be able to go back to FIRST next year either. Of course, the whole team is extremely upset about this. We've tried talking to the school but our questions about why they are placing these restrictions have gone unanswered. Are any other teams out there experiencing similar problems? If so, how are you dealing with it? If not, do you have any ideas?

Thank you so much,
- Stephanie, Katherine, and Adelaide
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Unread 12-29-2005, 02:13 PM
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Mentor, Tactician
AKA: Evan "Numbers" Morrison
FRC #5803 (Apex Robotics) and FRC #0971 (Spartan Robotics)
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Re: School Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by HRobotics
Unfortunately, our school (Havergal College in Toronto, Canada) does not fully understand FIRST or appreciate it as much as our team. This year, we aren't doing the FRC. Recently, we've also had a conflict with them concerning power tools, which they won't let us use anymore. This means that we can't build for fun like we had originally planned to do. This also means that we may not be able to go back to FIRST next year either. Of course, the whole team is extremely upset about this. We've tried talking to the school but our questions about why they are placing these restrictions have gone unanswered. Are any other teams out there experiencing similar problems? If so, how are you dealing with it? If not, do you have any ideas?

Thank you so much,
- Stephanie, Katherine, and Adelaide
I'm very sorry to hear that. We've never had problems like that, but I'm wondering if one of the team members did something with a powertool that upset the school? I know our team lets students come and go though the lab as they please because we trust their judgement, but there have been close calls (one student last year decided it would be fun to make black powder and raided the chem closet). What doesn't make sense to me is why the school doesn't tell you their rationale. My best suggestion is take the team and try and talk some sense into them. Also, alert the local media...a story on it could cause the school to shed some light on their decision.

Best of luck, and let me know if there's anything myself or my team can do to help!

-Nuttyman54
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Unread 12-29-2005, 02:13 PM
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FRC #1197 (Torbots)
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Re: School Problems

You tried talking to the school. Good start. If they don't listen, try going up the "chain of command"--from principal and school board to the district (or your equivalent in Canada), or farther if need be. Get some other teams in the area to help you, because if one school starts, another might join in, and then multiple teams are out. I figure that if you can produce a lot of people saying, "Please don't do this" or something similar, someone will eventually wake up and do something about it.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 02:21 PM
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Re: School Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricH
You tried talking to the school. Good start. If they don't listen, try going up the "chain of command"--from principal and school board to the district (or your equivalent in Canada), or farther if need be. Get some other teams in the area to help you, because if one school starts, another might join in, and then multiple teams are out. I figure that if you can produce a lot of people saying, "Please don't do this" or something similar, someone will eventually wake up and do something about it.
Better yet, get your parents involved. They are the "customers" as far as the school is concerned and administrators tend to listen to them more than the students.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 02:50 PM
sanddrag sanddrag is offline
On to my 18th year in FRC
FRC #0696 (Circuit Breakers)
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Re: School Problems

You know, it doesn't take a school to have a FIRST team. If all else fails, break off from them and become independent.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 03:29 PM
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Re: School Problems

You can also try to find a machine shop outside of the school to build the robot. Local businesses are always a good help. Good luck.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 04:22 PM
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Re: School Problems

I think this is a perfect opportunity to test FIRST's newest system that is in place.

Namely, if you have tried communicating with your school by yourselves to no avail, contact your FIRST Senior Mentor for some help in dealing with them.

Sometimes it's not what you know going into a battle, but who you know.

I strongly hesitate to use the word battle, but it seems like all other non-invasive ways of contacting your school district is not working.

Maybe having a spokesperson for the organization you are aligned with, namely the Senior Mentor representing FIRST, you will have some ground to stand on.

I'm not sure who your FIRST Senior Mentor would be in your area, but hopefully someone else may know.

Good Luck, and we hope to see you back competing in FIRST in no time.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 07:56 PM
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AKA: Alex
FRC #0422
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Re: School Problems

With the issue on power tools our school requires an adult to be in the room where we are working and for us to be allowed into the room we and our parents must sign a safety form, you may want to recomend some sort of policy like that to your school if its not in place already, they will like it alot more than the though of kids alone with power tools.

But definately talk with you senior mentor from FIRST as well as have parents talk to the school those are the best ways to et things done, wait to alert the media until nothing else works because calling the media is not going to make your school very happy with you
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Unread 12-29-2005, 09:06 PM
sanddrag sanddrag is offline
On to my 18th year in FRC
FRC #0696 (Circuit Breakers)
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Re: School Problems

Go see the movie Fun with Di ck and Jane and maybe try something like that. Maybe not as elaborate or illegal, but publically make them look good and then how can they say no?
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Unread 12-29-2005, 09:07 PM
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Re: School Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by HRobotics
Unfortunately, our school (Havergal College in Toronto, Canada) does not fully understand FIRST or appreciate it as much as our team. This year, we aren't doing the FRC. Recently, we've also had a conflict with them concerning power tools, which they won't let us use anymore. This means that we can't build for fun like we had originally planned to do. This also means that we may not be able to go back to FIRST next year either. Of course, the whole team is extremely upset about this. We've tried talking to the school but our questions about why they are placing these restrictions have gone unanswered. Are any other teams out there experiencing similar problems? If so, how are you dealing with it? If not, do you have any ideas?

Thank you so much,
- Stephanie, Katherine, and Adelaide
I know EXACTLY how you feel right now. My school has no clue what FIRST is. The only people that do know are the people that are actually on the robotics team. Our conflict was that we were going to merge with another team in order to have reached our level of funds and such. By merging, this would GREATLY benefit both teams. However, our self-centered school board decided that we could not do that. They did not approve of it. I am very ashamed of our school board because not only did they let me down, they let down about 30 other people. They also let down our special needs students who help us out tremendously. They should be ashamed of themselves. They have no clue what FIRST is, because if they did, they would let us have a robotics team this year. In order to make the schoolboard mad, some of us joined the team that we were going to merge with in the first place. The school board tried to take all the credit for our robots. They have no clue of anything about or robots, the game, or the experience. It bothers me that they would interfere as much as they did when they have no clue about FIRST.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 09:46 PM
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is getting lost in her new home
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Re: School Problems

Hi ladies,

Well, the first thing that I noticed about you is that you're from Canada. I don't know quite too much about Canadian geography, but you have some serious powerhouse teams up there. I would most certainly lobby them for support. Ask your schoolboard if they would be willing to talk with students from other teams who have been positively affected. Talk to the other teams and see if their administration would be willing to talk to yours and tell your administration why they support their program. Peer pressure works wonders, and is especially good when used in a positive manner. And even people such as administration are affected by peer pressure. Good luck!
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Unread 12-29-2005, 09:55 PM
sciguy125 sciguy125 is offline
Electrical Engineer
AKA: Phil Baltar
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Re: School Problems

Before you do anything rash, I'd like to remind you that they must have some reason for doing this. It's easier to do nothing than change a policy, so they wouldn't have unless they felt it necessary.

Several years back, our school had an issue with the cheerleaders. My understanding was that it had something to do with insurance. This limited what they could do (i.e. no pyramids or other such things that chearleaders do). I don't recall if they actually did these things, so it might not have actually affected them. They also to change their name. They went through a couple different names. Last I heard, they were called the "competetive dance team".

You say that your school won't give you a reason, but I think that's the first thing you need to find. Until you know why they put the policy in place, it might not be a good idea to try and fight it. Maybe insurance won't let them allow power tools on campus. Maybe they are trying to keep you guys safe but don't understand how important they are. Maybe they're trying to shut down your team without doing so directly. Whatever their reasons, you need to find out what they are to appropriately act on the situation. As Eric suggested, try moving your way up the chain of command.
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Unread 12-29-2005, 10:14 PM
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Re: School Problems

Whatever you do, don't give up or be discouraged. I was told this year that they would not provide a substitute for me during competitions and that we would need to raise an extra $1500 to pay for a sub for 6 days (2 comps). I was also told that with our new superintendant that we would not receive financial support this year. But after an hour meeting with the new superintendant and parent/mentor we got $5000 from her discrecianary budget and eventually worked out a deal with the principal to cover 4 of the sub days. Don't give up and be persistant!!

I also have become more proactive regarding safety on our team. I make sure to instruct all the team members about the safety rules with each piece of equipment and make them all take a safety quiz in which they must get a 100% on and I keep a copy of it in my file. This is routine practice in shop classes and when it comes to liability, having documentation that students know the safety rules is important - as well as adult supervision. For my team our equipment is split up into three nearby buildings, so it is almost impossible to watch all of them all the time, but this too happens in shop classes as well, it is impossible for an instructor to be watching every student all the time. However an adult should be close by. So be proactive regarding safety to alleviate any concerns and DON'T GIVE UP! GOOD LUCK
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Unread 12-30-2005, 08:30 AM
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Re: School Problems

When my schools budget failed this year everything got cut. So we looked for other ways to continue competing in FIRST. If all else fails you have 2 options assuming you still want to compete. you can break away from the school and fund yourselves, or you can find another school district that is willing to merge. My school requires us to sign a waiver in case we get hurt, and for the 3 years I've been in the club I've only gotten hurt twice, and it had nothing to do with power tools .
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Unread 12-30-2005, 06:35 PM
Ian Curtis Ian Curtis is offline
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Re: School Problems

First off, never talk to your administration with an "Us vs Them" mentality or even think about feeling that way. They definitely have founded concerns.. It doesn't help. As others have suggested, talking to other well established teams with accomplishments under their belts tends to make the administration recognize that this program accomplishes great things. If you can't get another team to help you, print off Chairmen's awards and give them to your principal/school board. Another way is ask for space in public meeting to do a presentation. Bring a robot, bring everyone assosciated with your team, bring a video, bring testimonies, bring this whitepaper.

Just remember to never take the "Us vs Them" mentality and you should come out all right.
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