Orginazation Problems

My team has some real drama issues. First off the rules that have been set into place are being enforced so strictly that the members are starting to take actions. Second the Mentors are becoming problems. I guess I’ll begin where it started.

The team recently merged with two other schools and now there are problems, the team is mostly made up of couples. The rules set into place were to prevent unacceptable things from happening, the rule states “No hugging, hand-holding, kissing…etc” Recently at the Pittsburgh competition the rule was taken to not even being able to sit next to each other. This is beginning to hinder the cooperation of the team. The mentor behind most of this has never had girls on his team before and seems to not understand how to treat them.

At our last meeting we addressed the rules in a a few formal speeches. It seems the mentors are uninterested in even considering changing the rules. I said myself that I believe Mentors and Students can work together on the same level and the mentor straight up said he disagreed and that it wouldn’t work that way. Mentors are just guiding hands right? To make sure we don’t kill each other. Their not supposed to make it or design it or anything like that right? Well I believe they shouldn’t be restricting us as if we’re prisoners.
We understand why the rules are in place and don’t ask the mentors to eliminate them only to allow some lee-way. The rules that apply at the school I attend state that even kissing like little ones for good bye or hello or something like that is allowed. I am currently looking into the rules for the other schools.

Somehow I think half the team crying in front of a women’s bathroom isn’t quite Gracious Professionalism.

We could use some advice on what to do, We’ve tried a lot of things but most of the team is ready to quit. We’re even writing up a petition as I write this stating that if the rules don’t change, everyone who signs it will quit the team.


finally a team problem that has nothing to do with the robot itself. As Dean and Woodie have always said, “FIRST isn’t about the robot”.

It is all about teamwork, cooperative competition, and win-win situations. In any real-world corporate experience, it’s perfectly OK to “agree to disagree”, but a) don’t make it a personal thing and b) don’t let the disagreement interfere with the overall effort of the team as a whole.

In your case, you have quite a few options:
a) The entire team can quit and walk away. But that wouldn’t make you happy either.
b) When your team merged-in with the other two schools, which school’s “rules” is the collective team now living under? If it is the other school’s rules that your team now has to obey/follow, well then it was your decision to abide by those rules when you merged.
c) Does “zero tolerance” really work? Do you really understand why these rules are in place? Was there some incident in prior years that created the rules? I’d think that a sincere conversation with the mentor(s) would create a clearer path to a “win-win” relationship.

I think that your comment about “not being allowed to sit next to each other at the Pittsburgh regional” is a bit extreme, but also ask yourself if sitting as “couples” might also detract from the true team camaraderie and spirit. Every day you are exposed to somebody and something new, so you can always learn by “mixing it up”.

BUT…you are representing your school as well as your sponsor, so behavior MUST err on the side of being very proper & well-behaved.

***Lastly, be clear to differentiate between the mentors and the chaperones. For many legal reasons, your sponsoring mentors may NOT be allowed to play judge & jury over the kinds of issues you are making them decide upon. Instead, the parents/chaperones MUST be the ones to set the school club rules…

Good luck…now go and focus together on getting your robot to win!

Three things:

  1. The rules that apply at school (all the schools involved) should be the rules that apply to the team. If its ok to hold hands at school or to sit together during lunch, assemblies… then the same standards should apply to the team.

  2. Mentors should definately be involved with the design and build process if that is what your team wants. This is a matter of continuous debate between FIRST teams, but the bottom line is your team should choose the way it wants to function.

  3. Baby <Not Equal> Bath water :ahh:

OK here is my take on things. we sort of have the same problem as you all but only on a smaller scale. the thing about not being able to sit next to each other is total crap. that is just a little too far on the part of your mentors.
but looking at it from their point of view you need to see that they have a point. I’m not saying that i agree with total sex separation, isn’t that part of the program, more females? but if all the students are “all over each other” i think they need to take a step back and realize that its not totally appropriate.
if thats not the case and your mentors are freaking out over a few little kisses then you should really talk to them cause quitting isn’t going to make anyone happy.
hope i helped

It sounds like your team needs to think about establishing a new team handbook, which takes into account school rules, rules about “couples” behavior, how your team will be organized (“mentor-driven”, “student-driven”, “combo”), defines roles on the team (student, mentor, chaperone, parent booster club), rules and consequences, etc.

A good start would be to ask a third party to act as facilitator for a team discussion on these issues. All must agree beforehand that everyone has their right to express their opinion, and that all parties will be given a chance to speak. Hopefully you can come to resolution before everyone decides to quit, and form a committee to start writing a new team handbook this summer.

I would just like to suggest one thing at the moment.
You are at the very end of the year. Everyone is exhausted, tired, drained -
school is impacting and it sounds like emotions are running very high.

Put this on hold for a little bit. Allow the school year to finish out and let some calm be restored. Also, allow some rest to enter into this for all of you, teenagers and adults, alike.

Then look into some of this great advice that is being presented to you.

What type of Mentor relationship is this. Is teh mentor a teacher from your school or like an enginer from some other company?
If the mentor is from another company or something like that, or ven at your school. Just write a letter to him teloing him/her how the team feels about his/her thoughts on th subjects at hand.
However, as Jane said, it is near teh end of the year, let the school year finish up and handle it over the summer.
You could always have a discussion witht eh mentors with a 3rd party administrator to find a happy medium between the two (or more) parties.
I hope this helps.

The students are actually very hard workers and all we’re trying to fight for is a hug or a little good-bye kiss or even like holding hands when its lunch time at competitons.
Recently we had a HUGE disscussion about it all. The mentor who seems to want gender seperation, never had girls on the team before, let alone had couples. He’s the one who made my boyfriend and I sit away from eachother when we were both just sitting there, We weren’t even TALKING to each other, he was talking to the guy on the other side of me! The only reason we HAVE that mentor is so we have the Tech School, so we can make the robot. Not only has the whole year been crap BUT they’re joining ANOTHER school too. I’ve written a letter to the mentor from my school and I have yet to see what she says. So we’re going to be 4 schools together. We had trouble enough this year joining with the other two and making peace. OH and the mentors recently announced that to work on the robot, we have to put in a JOB APPLICATION for it. This next year…Ugh.

We’ve tried, we held a big meeting with each of the students voicing our opinions on the situation and we tried to have some of the rules let up just a little. At my school we’re allowed to give a quick kiss good bye but in robotics its like boot camp, Don’t touch or you’ll get kicked off. Basically the mentors are tearing apart the team, we’re not allowed to touch each other or anything. I mean really we couldn’t even SIT next to each other. The mentor responsible for this during the meeting stated very harshly that he disagreed with my opinion and that I should just stop stating it. I think what we actually have to do is get handbooks from all 3 of the current schools, AND one from the school that we’ve added this year, and we have to look at all the rules for it, then make a rulebook from that and the parents. Thanks for helping out.

I have been watching this thread to see how it worked out without throwing in my 2 cents. Well here is my 2 cents…

All teams need clear written enforced rules in the form of a Team Handbook. The formation of the handbook should be made up of “Best Practices”, elements from other handbooks that work and most important input from the entire team. When we talk about input students MUST realize that there are school rules and corporate rules that must be followed. The handbook is a combination of all of these in a format that the entire team can live with.

The Team Handbook must also be a “Living Document” that changes and meets the current needs of the team. It is a very important element to keep it appropriate and up to date.

On our team we have more girls than boys, and yes relationships do develop during the course of the year. We stress that at events, on trips and at work-sites team rules be followed. These include traveling in groups of a min. of three persons, no hand holding or displays of affection aimed specifically at your boyfriend/girlfriend (many hug often when greeting parents and friends - this is acceptable).

Our rule is very simple - it should not appear that you are boyfriend/girlfriend at any time. Each team member has a job to do and is expected to do it as professional as possible at all times. We have many other rules that you can review by downloading the White Paper that is our team handbook. There are many examples of handbooks in the white papers section.

I know that this next comment will upset many students, but here it is.

The adult leaders are responsible for you and your actions at all events associated with the robotics program. As responsible leaders putting their careers on the line at every event they need to be very careful to protect ALL team members. The adults will have to answer for any situation that occurs on a trip or working on the robot. I will not spell out the situations as I think you can use your own imagination. This includes safety, relationships between students and parents or other adults that assist the team. Since the adults are in charge they are allowed to make some rules you do not agree with in an effort to protect the program. The key word is “protect” and most adults know how to balance these protection rules.

My 2 cents.

Yup. What he ^^ said.

Although it may seem somewhat drastic, one possible alternative is to not join FIRST next year. I recommend against that, but just like at work: If the situation is intolerable, you are free to leave. Sorry to come off as harsh, but that’s the real world.

When someone tells you to stop stating your opinion, you need to take a moment and think about it. You can state your opinion all day and night, but unless you have some good arguments to back up that opinion - i.e., this is WHY I have this opinion, and the logical path I used to draw that conclusion - then repeating your statement is fruitless.

The WHY of something is important for some people to understand before they will make a decision. Stating your wants is only a first step. Next explain WHY you want the change. Then find out the other’s concerns, and try to address those concerns adequately (not necessarily at that instant - you might need to think about it). This is how society effects change.



Kids tend to complain about things that take away from thier fun but lets be for real here. There are bigger things at stake than just relationships here. You need to look no further than what happened to 192 in 2005 to see how horribly things can get out of hand and make what was once a good thing go very sour and then go away. So any kid who complains about that type of deal ask them this: If what you did could cause the robotics team to go away forever would you do it?


We’ve been very lucky on our team, but that’s just it - lucky. We have our team handbook and the school handbook to use if any questions come up, just in case. And just so you don’t think team handbooks and rules are meant to keep the students down, team handbooks (should) also put rules in place for mentors, too. Ours does.

Team handbooks - they are like safety glasses… they seem stupid and a pain to wear, and they make it harder to see… but them seem important about 1 msec after a flaming hunk on metal bounces off them.

I may be looking at this from a different angle, but bear with me. Every team has a standard for maintaining relationship issues - it takes time to build up or break down such a standard, because it is built both out of habit and out of general interests.

You can protest to the school board all you want, but I will warn you now that one of the biggest challenges you will face is attitudes. Rules can be rewritten, problems can be fixed, but peoples’ feelings are far from inanimate - they need more consideration than just being “corrected”.

  • Genia

I think you are beginning to identify growth needs in your team by discussing the school handbooks and developing a team handbook. That’s a great start. Combining different schools into one team comes with challenges and opportunities that requires the respect and attention of team members as well as the mentors and parents involved. It takes everyone working for the betterment and longevity of the team.

In robotics you are working with machinery and tools, the focus has to been on the machines for safety - your team mates and your mentors count on that. There has to be consistency and control of emotions on a robotics team. The new team members learn this from watching their team role model appropriate behaviors.

Well, I’ve been on both the student and mentor side of this argument and fought very hard for both.

When I was in hs, 2 of my good friends on the team were dating, and they were still in that “first stage” of dating where it’s just like, awwww, we’re together! The mentors tried to just say something here or there at first, but at one of the competitions, the whole thing blew up.

One of our mentors who had recently joined us from another team sat down with all of us girls and we had a little talk. (I’m hoping that I remember this correctly, it was a few years ago) She told us about how on her old team, there had been a little issue with relationships, and that was why she and the other mentors were so cautious. Apparently while on a robotics trip, two of the seniors had gotten a little bit too “affectionate” and the young lady ended up pregnant. At that point, she had to put off college etc.

From the student standpoint, I get it. You’re getting into the whole dating thing and you want to take full advantage of just being together for a weekend. But you also have to look at it from the other standpoint. You are in a program that is very professional. If your mom and dad worked together, they probably wouldn’t be going around kissing and holding hands all day, would they? Probably not, because that’s just not accepted in the professional world. Through this program, you’re basically in the professional world. You’re working with professionals, representing your school and sponsor companies, it’s kind of like an audition for the workplace.

At competitions, as I’m sure you already know, it’s almost like you stop being high schoolers for a while and you’re on this whole other level above the peers you left back at school. And they hold you to that too, your mentors, the other teams, the VIP’s watching you from their little room. Because of this, our kids are expected to act more like they would in the professional workplace than they would in high school.

So I guess what I’m saying is, we expect FIRST kids to be at a level above other kids. As such, your mentors expect that of you on every level.

I think Beth brings up a very good point…so I offer a simple rule of thumb:

If you feel embarrassed doing it in front of your entire team, than don’t do it. When I say entire team, I include chaperones and teachers…you get the gist.

Genia and Beth have this issue pretty much covered just add on though since I like the topic. My team is no stranger to this at all. We have had many issues like this come up, the trick is sitting down and discussing these problems so you get organized. Also, a team handbook like Mr.Martus would not be a bad idea. As far competition time well u bring your best to the competition enough said. Finally, this just goes to show you that FIRST is much more then robots and competitions.


Oddly that last statement did not upset me, it actually made me laugh. Even with the rules in place as they are now one of the team members has on multiple occasions done “Interesting” things with boys, including in the back seat of my mothers car who was chaperoning the trip for an extra hand. The mentors were told by both myself, other team members and by my mother and the mentor from my school said and I quote “She’s a senior, she’s graduating soon, its petty.” Honestly I don’t think this was “Petty” We’re not really asking for us to show uber amounts of affection, in fact recently the rules are looking pretty nice if they’d actually do something about the people who break them. Truthfully all I want is to be able to hug my boyfriend if we win. We won the last competiton that we went to and I hugged EVERYONE, Encluding my boyfriend, and when I hugged him I got yelled at and told that if they ever saw it again they’d kick me off the team for the rest of my highschool years. Honestly it seems like whatever IS NOT written on the rules is fine, So we can’t hold hands, kiss, make-out, hug, or anything like that. But biting is okay, licking is okay, other stuff is alright, ahh this makes me laugh. sorry if I sound sorta sarcastic, I don’t mean it that way.

ChiefDelphi isn’t the place for this type of commentary.
Your team is not going to benefit from this.
Sincere efforts have been made on the part of the CD community to listen and offer advice in helping your team and I think you could find a better more appropriate way to express your concerns regarding the injustices that you feel are occurring.