I’ve been thinking about creating a “quick start” guide/ booklet for new incoming members to help them understand how our team operates, FRC nomenclature, Tips and tricks for specific subteams they may join, etc. Do you think this would be an effective and helpful means to get the incoming members started, are there other options that are more effective? Also, what should I include into this quick start guide?
Here’s our new member guide. It’s pretty extensive but includes a lot of great information! Let me know if you have any questions about it and I can connect with the 4607 mentors who wrote it to figure out the answers.
I thought about doing something similar last year, but concluded that it is not worth the effort. New members (usually freshman or sophomores) would probably not read it out of boredom. Using the off season to expose new members to what the team is about through experience keeps the new members engaged until the season starts and will learn a lot more. A short handbook containing the rules and other information about being on the team so that the students and parents know what they are getting into . What I do think is worth the time is a team manual like the one posted above. Having most or all the knowledge of the team in one document can be helpful for both new and veteran members, especially when a team member with a lot of knowledge leaves the team.
Quick start? No. Giving someone a booklet to read is not going to be interesting or engaging, so people won’t read it or even decide not to continue with the team because of the expected up-front “homework”. Instead, plan some time in meetings to cover that stuff in a fun and creative way. Our main recruiting tool is our 2-week long summer camp, and we spend the first part of every meeting talking about FIRST and our team. It gives everyone the necessary background, and the rest of the meeting gets them working with tools and having fun. It’s been incredibly effective over the last decade!
We do, however, have some rather comprehensive documentation. Our “Team Bible” runs over 100 pages, and covers everything about how the team operates. It’s broken up into specific sections to help people determine what they actually need to read (for example, the section on drive team is not going to be read by someone not interested in drive team!). Our Student Handbook is the first part of it along with lettering requirements, which are really the only parts that we cover as a whole team. We then have a leadership handbook (for anyone aspiring to or in a leadership role) and a mentor handbook, and then a section for each discrete part of the team.
Separate from that, we have a “Design Bible”, that is essentially a repository of robot design/build knowledge for the team. It highlights cool COTS parts and how to use them, different styles of common mechanisms (arms, elevators, roller claws, conveyors, shooters, etc), and basics on how to set stuff up on a robot (bearings vs bushings, different types of shafts, etc). That runs well over 100 pages as well. Very few will actually read it, but the way it’s laid out makes it easy to find a specific topic and learn more about it - so if a senior says “lets build an elevator this year”, a freshman can go home, read everything about it in 10 mins, and come back with a good amount of background information, letting them participate in the conversation instead of just listening!
Our students run a program called “Geared Learning” at the beginning of the year, which is our rookie education program. Each session is 1 hour long, 1 day per week, from mid September to mid November. It introduces rookie members to the four branches within the team, and teaches a few introductory skills. We outlined what the “ideal rookie” knows going into their first season, and made it our objective to train each new class into a group of “ideal rookies.” It worked pretty well.
On a separate track, 2056 has a great Team Manual, available here:
It’s thorough but relatively concise, quickly covering all aspects of the team, but clocking in at only 23 pages including appendices.
Sounds very useful. Mind making it public?
Ha! Funny to see an intake you’ve helped design in a 2056 manual
page 11 @Brandon_L
I’m pretty sure it’ll be up on our website at some point… the team has been working on a redesign. Look for it there in the future!