Average number of hours per week?

Hi everyone!

I’m working with a woman who is trying to start an FLL team at a nearby elementary school in Cambridge, MA. She wants to know if meeting two hours per week is sufficient to prepare for the competition. This sounds too low for me, but I was hoping to get a better idea of how many hours per week teams usually put in from people who have participated in FLL before. I’m sure there is a large range, so I’d like to get as much feedback as possible. Thanks for your help - I’m hoping we’ll be able to make this team a reality!

Ellen

Assuming the team is going to get started in September in preparation for a late November / early December competition, you can probably get by with meeting for two hours a week. However, it will not be easy and the team would probably only be able to complete a handful of missions on the mat, unless they used their time very efficiently. The teams I’ve worked with usually are doing about 4-6 hours per week, plus one or two full Saturday cram sessions towards crunch time. In addition, there’s the time spent outside of regular meetings by the students on the research project.

I have seen a lot of teams compete who’ve only put in the hours you’ve described. It’s definitely possible, but probably not ideal.

My mothers and I’s team would set aside 2 days of the week for students to meet for 2 hours. Not everyone can make it to both days so we say only making it to one is ok. More time may have been beneficial, more so now since in our area that championship model is changing, but they have always been prepared for competing.

When I mentored an FLL team, Saturday mornings from September to competition was the schedule, with a couple extra meetings at other times (and time spent on the research project).

I would suggest 2 or 3 weekdays of 1.5-2.5 hours each, and Saturday about 3 hours. Add a few more hours just before competition. You need time to not only program the robot, but also research a topic and put together a presentation. Younger teams may not be able to handle this rigorous schedule and should revise expectations accordingly.

Ellen,
If this is an after school team, you are more likely that most students will show up each day. Two days of 1.5-2 hours each should work for just building the robot and getting it programmed. If the team wants to try for the Director’s Award, then either non builders need to spend time on that or one additional afternoon needs to be set aside for the research or it must be performed after team meetings. Figure the last week before competition they will be meeting most everyday. Please pass along that it is not unusual for a team to completely tear the robot apart and start over once or twice as long as it is a team decision. However, for the two weeks prior to competition, the students should be able to give a good reason for making changes before they modify their design. An additional day for tshirt design is not unusual. Take out some time each week to have a mock competition with a timer. During this time, ask a parent to sit an as a judge and let the students to describe the robot function and software design so they can practice speaking to adults.

My experience from several years of FLL coaching is that 2hrs per week would not be enough (especially with a new team). I will agree with above posters that 4+ hrs per week is the desired amount. Our team typically meets 3-4 hrs per week using 1.5 or 2hr long meetings. I do not recommend going over 2hrs per meeting (student focus gets lost). We add an extra long meeting (vacation or weekend day) for writing out the project script (your not leaving until the task is complete type of meeting - hint, you need to include food & breaks to keep the students focused for long meetings), and during the last week we allow for anyone to come during afterschool hours to work independantly on the robots. We also add a project field trip (info gathering) and library demo (demo robot and project presentation) to our schedule.

I would recommend that anyone looking for tips/info/NXT help/coaching help with FLL use the FIRST forums at forums.usfirst.org- there is much more activity in the FIRST forum for FLL support than occurs here on CheifDelphi.

Also, to locate FLL teams/mentors/coaches near by for help in starting a team you can try the FIRST TeamUp portal at: https://my.usfirst.org/FIRSTPortal/login/fc_login.aspx?s=fc

Merle
Granby Red Blox - FLL Coach
Jr Granby Red Blox - JrFLL Coach
Granby GRUNTS - 3146 - Mentor

Thanks so much for your help everyone! This gives me some good support to pitch that two hours per week probably isn’t sufficient, we should be going with 4+.

Our team meets for two hours twice a week and sometimes 3 times a week during the last few weeks. Some kids work less efficiantly though when you meet like this. SOme teams will get burned out if you meet to much. It really depends on the team to know how often you need need to meet and for how long you meet. When I was in FLL, we only met once a week for 2 hours and ended up meeting everyday for 3 hours in the last 2 weeks. Find what works best for your team. Ususally, teh last half hour of our meeting is time for the kids to have some fun and let the seriousness out and just have fun with their teamates. This builds teamwork ans also makes the meeting more fun. That’s my input :smiley:

This is a little off-topic from the hours/week thing but, we have recently started an FLL team for the first time in our histroy. The FLL season starts on the 3rd of September (correct me if i’m wrong), Unfortunatly school in our area doesnt start until the 6th of September. Is it a really big deal if the FLL team starts late? And as far as I know the team hasnt even been selected at the school, we got it started just before school ended befreo summer. Im guessing that it would take a few days after to get everything straighted out at the school too, so im guessing that the students wouldn’t really get to work on the robot until the 10th? Since this is our first year, i dont really understand FLL yet and we are completely unexperienced. I still need to read the FLL book too, which may help me.

(also i feel stupid cause i dont know how to start a thread can anyone explain it too me?)

Thanks

A few days off won’t be that bad. FLL build is much more relaxed than FRC, and teams put in a wildly varying amount of time. As long as you find some hard working kids, you’ll be fine.

Also, keep in mind that you’ll have to set aside some time to build the mission modules for the robot competition, before you can really start the robot.

To start a new thread, hit the blue “new thread” button above or below the appropriate forum, on the left side of the page.

Aaron,
There is no worry about the start date. FLL historically started in late (third week) September. Now that it has been pushed up, it gives a leg up on teams starting before school in some areas but you must remember that pre-high school students can get bored with a longer season. Starting early may seem like an advantage but may not be. The students are under some stress starting a new year meeting new people and teachers, figuring out schedules and class rooms. It may be more efficient to wait or do some team building first.

Alright thanks for your help! :slight_smile: And that sounds awsome being less crazy than FRC XD

good luck for you …