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Unread 07-30-2018, 12:04 AM
backflippingcat backflippingcat is offline
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Outreach Programs

My team just finished our rookie year, and we're looking into starting a sustainable outreach program for coming years. I'm wondering if any veteran team could answer a couple questions I've got:

How do you train team members with only FRC experience to effectively mentor younger students in other FIRST programs (FLL Jr, FLL, FTC)?

How do you provide mentorship? (Basically, is there some schedule that the team follows? Ex. visit x team on every Wednesday to help the team with ___.)

Where do you start new teams?

How does outreach factor into chairman's?

Any other less-obvious nuances involved in getting an outreach program off the ground?

Any help is appreciated, thank you!
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Unread 07-30-2018, 01:19 PM
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GeeTwo GeeTwo is offline
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Re: Outreach Programs

train: hasn't been a problem for us. We have several team members who were in FLL and can help with programming. Those without prior FLL experience usually help with the physical design of the robot and the project. In previous years, I think some of our students taught each other some FLL programming.

schedule: we work with each FLL team to figure out a schedule which meets their needs and our availability; no one size fits all. But yes, once per week is typical.

where: We focus our active efforts trying to start teams at our feeder schools, because our students have contacts there and those programs will feed ours, but we also mentor other teams in the area. Most of the non-feeder contacts were initiated at public outreach events (STEM day, parades, demos).

chairman's: Of course, we always mention these. We try to accurately but succinctly characterize how involved we are with each team we mentor, whether FLL, FTC, or FRC.

other: Starting and helping teams is like recruiting mentors and sponsors - the details of the program don't matter so much as individuals getting out there one on one with the right people and following through.
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Unread 07-31-2018, 11:02 AM
Steven Smith Steven Smith is offline
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Re: Outreach Programs

My team just finished our rookie year, and we're looking into starting a sustainable outreach program for coming years. I'm wondering if any veteran team could answer a couple questions I've got:

Quote:
How do you train team members with only FRC experience to effectively mentor younger students in other FIRST programs (FLL Jr, FLL, FTC)?
We haven't done a lot of FLL mentoring as a team, but the Perot museum hosts a lot of FLL coaches training session in the fall in the DFW area. When we did an FLL tournament a few years back though, I had some of the teams work with our high school students and they seems to do fine just jumping in and trying to help. If you wanted a few of your students to get technically trained on FLL, that would be a good start. I believe UTD also does some similar things with FTC.

Quote:
How do you provide mentorship? (Basically, is there some schedule that the team follows? Ex. visit x team on every Wednesday to help the team with ___.)
For direct mentorship, we usually have to limit our travel time around, so we invite local teams to our shop to work with us (FRC/FTC usually). If you wanted to mentor a local FLL team, arranging to have a student or two visit every week or two would be appropriate.

Quote:
Where do you start new teams?
In almost every case of this for me, it is that I get a request from an adult in the area that wants to start a team, and I am supporting them by providing information. After that kicks off, we might provide some level of support between direct mentoring to an occasional phone call or internet chat.

Quote:
How does outreach factor into chairman's?
It is certainly a large factor in Chairman's, and mentoring is one thing that awards like that are trying to incentivize. It is good to record what you are doing to support other robotics programs as you continue to build/strengthen your presentation. There are also intrinsic benefits to mentoring younger teams though, such as increasing technical skills and breadth, improving communication/leadership for your team members, increasing connectivity in the North Texas region, etc.

Quote:
Any other less-obvious nuances involved in getting an outreach program off the ground?
The more you get out there, the more opportunities you will continue to find. We commonly have turn down requests for help just because we lack the resources to be everywhere. As another North Texas team, if you are looking for opportunities, you can PM me and I can send some your way when it makes sense.

Any help is appreciated, thank you!
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Unread 07-31-2018, 02:58 PM
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Donut Donut is offline
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Re: Outreach Programs

Related question to OP's, how do teams handle transportation to mentor other teams, or is the bulk of help done remotely?

When I was a student and worked with an FLL team weekly, I could only do it because I was within walking distance of their school. For one off events like workshops or competitions you can host nearby and have everyone come to it, but for frequent mentoring I would imagine logistics are a challenge. I know our District wouldn't think nicely of mentors driving students to other schools...
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