Rookie team peer guides/Adopt a team

There was some discussion over on the “candidly speaking” thread about the rate of rookie teams failing, I started to respond there, but this is a separate topic. Part of the first and second year attrition is surely due to a lack of a go to local resource for those teams.

Everyone who posts regularly on these forums could, with just a few emails be the difference between a new team succeeding and a team becoming a statistic next year. We know where the potholes are, we could help the rookies avoid them.

Yes, there are senior mentors who could do this, but the teams have to seek them out, I’m thinking in the other direction. That we as existing mentors or team members reach out to the new teams and offer help and guidance. Essentially I’m suggesting that people who want to improve FRC adopt a rookie team. Not become a mentor mind you, but a resource they can contact.

But I hear you say, “I’m not sure where the closest rookie is, how can I offer help if I don’t know?”

That report lists all of the rookie teams for 2018 as of this morning 12/12/17 page 1 is a list view filterable by country and state/province page 2 is a map view also filterable by country or state/province code.

I’m currently working with 6819, have been since August, I’ve had an email exchange with 7311, and just followed up with them again. The map reminded me of 7041 which is very close to me and I will seek them out, contact their lead mentor and offer assistance to them as well.

You may ask, what would FIRST say? I might send a link to this thread to Frank, but none of us need permission from FIRST to offer help, we just need to step up and offer it. If FIRST wanted to codify this in some way I’d be happy to see it, but I know they’re much too busy right now to be messing with something like this and the time to make contact and offer help to these rookies is now, before kickoff.

Actually, the time to do this was prior to event registration, but like they say; the best time to plant a tree is two decades ago, the second best time is today.

Without doubt the best way to help create Matxhing o9teams is for teams to network with veteran teams in similar situations that have a system that works for them. Matching low/high resource, lots/few of mentors, school support or no school support, community type teams etc.

Usually the problem is contacting the teams that need help. FIRST needs to start collecting some kind of ‘publicly accessible’ contact for teams wanting to reach out.

Pearadox invites teams to kickoff at our location. We go through strategies, major rules, etc and try to make sure teams hit the ground running. It’s aimed primarily at teams that are inexperienced (though this year we’ll have a fellow veteran/friend team). The hardest part of it isn’t helping the rookies or 2nd year teams or whatever, it’s getting the invitation to them and strongly encouraging them to show up. Ive asked our regional director to get word to the team coaches and usually what I have to do is hope that they’ll be a pre rookie at a November offseason event and email the principals of the schools of new teams to make sure they get an invite.

Even still, we have a website, social media and our email address posted in a number of places and when someone saw one of my CD posts and wanted to contact me - he still went and saw what school we were at and contacted the school (which incidentally I don’t work for, haha). If FIRST collected information and said this is how other teams will be able to contact you to offer help, click here to opt out or something, I bet it’d make this kind of venture easier to implement

/endrant - sorry

As a former FIRST Senior Mentor I can tell you I always reached out to new teams and I know that those Senior Mentors with a FRC background usually do the same. In addition to being there as resource for them I always attempted to get them connected with a local team. Of course not all areas have a FSM and depending on the needs in an area they may focus much or all of their efforts on FTC and/or FLL.

But if you are in an area with a FSM, I’d suggest starting there and tell them you would like to provide help to a rookie team.

However you would be surprised just how many teams don’t accept the offer of assistance, or even acknowledge it. I had a team show up to their 1st event with a barely out of the box robot and the coach told me “Yeah I saw your emails and I probably should have contacted you”. The team I’m with is literally less than 2 miles away and I offered to stop by ect. That was not the only time where the coach just didn’t respond to attempts to help them. I had one person looking to be a team mentor and it just so happened he lived near and had attended HS at a school with a rookie team, so he really wanted to volunteer at that school. Both of us attempted to contact the rookie coach multiple times with no response. So the mentor gave up and asked if there was another team he could help.

So while I highly encourage your team to help in any way you can, please don’t get discouraged if you find that your offers of help are ignored or simply missed. That is why you should start with your Senior Mentor, the coach may be more likely to respond to a email. Plus if the Senior Mentor knows you are willing to help they’ll know who to ask first when there is a need in the future.

I absolutely agree with you. The Senior Mentors are a great resource, but I count about about 60 Senior Mentors covering about 550 new teams. I doubt any of the Senior Mentors would look unkindly on anyone offering to help guide a rookie team.

The best way to get in contact with a rookie team is going to be through those same senior mentors.

As to teams not accepting help, that’s going to be an issue. But as you describe, the problem is essentially that they don’t know what they don’t know. Hence my suggestion that someone make proactive contact. Right now, a great opening would be “How did your FIRST Choice round go, did you get the components you were hoping for?” I would bet that for a significant number of first year rookies the response to that query would be “FIRST, what?”

Next week a query about how their plans to get their team to the kickoff event they are attending are going might be worthwhile.

Yes I doubt that a Senior Mentor is going to be unhappy if you contact them and tell them you want to help. Ultimately I like to see the students helping students, team mentors helping team mentors, coaches helping coaches ect, not that it would change my course of action in making sure the coach understands all that he really needs to understand.

For most teams what I’ve found is the second year can be the hardest. Not knowing what you don’t know can actually be a help in the first year, so most teams stick to the KISS principle and do OK. Then they get to an event and find out what they didn’t know. For many teams that means that they tend to overreach their second year now that they know what is possible.

The left chart here shows how many years teams that aren’t returning for 2018 had as of 2017. Note the big change that happens after teams do a 3rd season.

So in addition to helping that rookie team this year and continuing that relationship, it is a good idea to reach out to those 2nd year teams too.

Cool list! Don’t see DC anywhere, are there no rookies from there this year?

In the book “The Mythical Man Month”, Fred Brooks called this The Second System Syndrome. Teams will be mindful of their limits the first time they attempt a project and work in a conservative way, avoiding extraneous complexity. But after a success, they take that list of “we could have dones” and the the next project becomes an overcomplicated mess as they try to put every idea that was held back the first time.

Now that I think of it, Second System Syndrome is probably related to the Dunning-Kruger effect. If that’s the case, it’s probably impossible to keep second year teams from overreaching. It might be possible for an experienced outsider to recognize it and help them work through the effects though.

The left chart here shows how many years teams that aren’t returning for 2018 had as of 2017. Note the big change that happens after teams do a 3rd season.

So in addition to helping that rookie team this year and continuing that relationship, it is a good idea to reach out to those 2nd year teams too.

An excellent point, but now we’re talking about something more like 1000 teams. I could update the report to include 2017 rookies too, do you think that would be a good idea?

That’s all 2018 rookies and DC shows up as a state/province code, so if it’s not in the filter list it’s not in that column of the table. Though DC proper is tiny.

You should be able to zoom in on the map (double click on anything that isn’t a dot) though to find something close. I see 6863 and 6893 in Maryland,

I reached out to a rookie team a few months back and had a couple of emails back and forth. My team is small and we don’t have much but this will be our 4th year and we are starting to get a good supply of parts. We had a team meeting just before Thanksgiving and put a box in the middle of the shop. As we cleaned the shop we put misc parts that we have extra of into the box. Once we had the shop clean then everyone looked through the box. We added a few things as we talked about what they might need. Simple parts, throttle motors, window motors, couple 4" wheels, 20ft of red and black 12 awg wire, shrink tubing, double side tape, fuel from 2017, igus track limit switches, etc… Most of these items we got with our kit of parts over the last 3 years. So when i emailed the rookie team offering gifts they quickly setup a meeting. I got 4-5 team members to go with me and we went and spent an hour or so talking robots. Now we have a better connection and I think we can work together some this year. I think this is a good approach as we all have extra parts that we don’t need and the rookie teams have very little.

Does anyone have a team that needs a mentor? I have been consistently emailing and contacting teams to see if they need help without luck. Our team knows what we are doing, so I see no reason why they wouldnt want our help if they needed it. I will be reaching out to a few more soon, but if anyone has any that want help let me know!

I did see on the map that there is a first year team 7274 in Pittsburgh. I have a friend who lives there and is interested in FRC so I was thinking about pointing her at them.

I’d suggest contacting the PA senior mentor and asking for an introduction.

Just reached out to that team earlier this week. Thanks though! Ill try to reach out to the Senior Mentor.