Keeping Student Interest During the Off-Sseason

I am an advisor of a rookie team, and am wondering what can be done to maintain student interest until next year? Are there any kits out there we could purchase which will not only give them the opportunity to stay involved, but to learn valuable building/engineering skills? Thank you.

You can buy Vex kits. Those are always fun to play with, and you could run a mini-competition with them. Also use the summer to get some fundraising and community awareness in.

You’re lucky–there are well over a half-dozen off-season events within range of New Jersey. Same robots, same rules (generally–some events will drop certain irritating game rules, and most are reasonably forgiving on some robot rules), and plenty of opportunity to give your team more experience. They tend to run around $200-300 to register, and generally only take up a Saturday. A couple run before school lets out in May and early June, while several more run in the fall. Look around CD, and you’ll find plenty of information on past ones.

You’ve already got a robot for them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have things you could set your team members on. Have them throw around ways to optimize parts on the robot. Is there a more optimal way to lay our your electronics to minimize wire lengths (and thus cut weight and resistance)? Are there other ways of putting power to your wheels that may be more robust or efficient? Can you become one of those teams that can get a dump in autonomous? This is the time to explore such things. Even if we don’t have to worry about rover wheels and regolith next season, a lot of the lessons will carry over.

http://www.vexrobotics.com/

http://fantasticcontraption.com/
and
West Point Bridge Builder(it is a download game)

Both are great fun and really stress engineering thought processes. Both are free. I know its not the same as building a bot in the real world, but you can set up challenges and see who can make the best design. Have fun with it.