Help with teaching students & getting them more involved

I’m part of a new team (team 7700) (this is becoming the way I start all my threads isn’t it.), and I was looking for help getting other students more involved, and helping them learn.
Now, the thing is our team is almost entirely composed of grade 7s (equivalent of freshmen), and they aren’t very involved.

Now, the thing is, we have been doing robotics since ~october, and some of them just come to the meetings for 10 minutes, then leave. Or, we have people who come and then do nothing for an hour, and just slow others down. (During build season, we had days on saturday where we would come in and build, and only 2-3 people would come out of 15-25(more and more people are joining, less and less are working)) I have read some threads on how to get students motivated, and some of the things they have mentioned are: Getting students to the competition (Done). Getting students to work with seniors (We have 2 people who are in grade 10 (Me, and my friend. And, it’s still our first year.)). Talk to the team. (I’m pretty sure it’s been tried.) Trying to filter out people, to get only the most dedicated (It’ll leave us with 5 people, so no go.)

Though, some of the people who come are really involved in the team. We even have a grade 7 as a head of CAD, because he’s really dedicated and works hard. (Props to him)

The main problem I’m having is that I’m the head of Programming, Pneumatics and Electricals. And I need to teach some people (So I don’t do it alone again. That’s not happening this time around)
I need to get people interested in programming, and be willing to stay for 1 to 2 hours after school, so I can teach them about it. 10 minutes isn’t going to cut it. In my opinion, it’ll take a combined total of probably about 40 to 100 hours to get the fluent in Java, so we can write effective code.

The other problem that I’m having is that I go to another school. Now, at the start of the year, I was at the school (Westmount High School, aka WHS) and I was a really important part of the team, being the only programmer. Later to become the only student electrician (we have a mentor) and the only person who knows how pneumatics work (I really hate the venturi /s. That one was a pain.) Anyways, so when I moved to another school, I continued to come back to WHS and help with robotics. But, I am only able to arrive an hour and twenty minutes after WHS ends. Big problem there; I don’t want to ask my programmers to stay for an 3 hours after school.

Additionally, I do not believe that we will be able to consistently get access to the school during the weekends, as they need to have a janitor or a principal/vp come in, to open the school. So, I do not have much of a location for us to be able to group up. That combined with me only arriving at 4:20, it’s a bit of a problem. Clarification: I also do not believe that we will be able to come into school during the summer, for the reasons above.

Hence, I was wondering if I could have any ideas on how I might
1: Motivate students.
2: Get other students more involved.
3: Teach students.

Thanks for your time,
sorry for the thesis essay.

You might want to start by taking a look at this very similar ongoing thread:

Actually, I was reading through it, but as I mentioned in the post, there are things we can’t do, and things we have already tried. I found nothing new when skimming through the thread.

Not all students will enter your program as self-starters who will go through the struggle of teaching themselves CAD, programming, electronics, etc., especially if the only guidance is “go make this work, here is the doc. Search Chief Delphi. You can do it, that’s what I did”. As a leader, it’s your job to recognize that not everyone learns and is motivated in the same way that you are.

The biggest change for us was to have more mentors who could lead small groups of students. We found that the students were more motivated because the mentor’s guidance let them accomplish more and get stuck less. We went from 1 technical mentor last year to 6 this year, and the entire culture changed from 1/2 of the people messing around to not having enough kids to get tasks done.

1 student leading programming, wiring, & pneumatics is a bit of a red flag to me considering the size and experience of your team.

As far as your logistical problems, doing programming meetings using a screenshare over Discord or Slack can be pretty effective up until the point where you need a physical robot.


Ok, I might try to screenshare over discord.
Though, the only reason I’m Programming head, Pneumatics head and Electricals head is because I was the only one on the team who knew programming, when we started (october, 2018). Then, because of me changing school mid-build season, I wasn’t able to train anyone else. Then, I just started doing electricals when nobody else was and I just took up pneumatics during the competition, and taught myself the stuff I needed to, to get the robot to work.

Though, I don’t expect anyone to teach themselves (Other than myself), I was just looking for ideas on how I can get time to teach them. I intend to guide them through it, and show them how to do things. Not saying to read docs. I know how painful that can be, and that will only become my go to when they are at the same level as me. When I have nothing more to teach them, and we are working on something I haven’t done before.

Now, we do have a programming mentor (now, not during the build season) (also, they haven’t worked with wpilib before, but have with java.), but the same problems still stand. I’m looking for ways to get other students motivated (by motivated, I mean willing to come to the team meetings & be willing to try stuff out. Not teaching themselves, that comes later when they take a much larger interest in programming.), and get them interested in programming.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Since you said you learned nothing new from the other thread, I’m assuming you already have a defined org structure, team wide goals, and a policies and procedure document. If not, work with your mentors and student leadership to make this happen.

Between you and the programming mentor, you should be able to pull 4-5 students aside and bring them up to speed during the off-season. We bought a Udemy Java course and try to teach students concepts in the same order as the videos. That way if someone misses a meeting and needs to catch up, or wants to work ahead, they can. As a team with optional meetings this was critical. Having reference material is also important, verbal guidance w/o examples is rough.


Does your school offer computer science or programming classes? In the past we’ve advertised in our school’s classes, since people who are taking them are more likely to be motivated about learning and trying programming and other technical areas. We got some of our most dedicated student leads that way.

Sadly, my old school does not have any programming courses. (I would have loved it if it did.) Though, there is a new robotics course starting up for the sec 1s. Though, I am looking for a few older students, as I understand how hard it is for some of the students. Additionally, having older and more mature students is good, as they are more adept (at least, in my opinion) at problem solving tasks, like programming.

Since I only skimmed through the other thread, I must have missed the part about team wide goals, org structure and policies and procedure document. I’ll go look through that, and see if we already have something of semblance.

I’ll also look at courses for Java. Though, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep the programming group together during the whole summer, as we will not be meeting up because the school will be closed. I’ll try getting people together on discord, though I feel that students will become more lazy, and attend less as the summer goes on. (I also believe that the same will happen to me. Work environment is really important, as in the wrong environment anyone can become distracted.)
For reference material, I may look at a book that I read, to teach myself about Java, and maybe acquiring copies of it, or (more preferably) an online course.

Sorry for not responding earlier, I was unavailable during the weekend.

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