Seeking info and advice for teams who can't afford to attend Worlds. And is it worth it?

First, we are not complaining. Our team is ecstatic to have qualified for Worlds for the first time. However, we cannot attend for 2 reasons.
First, we have no money left in the budget. We did more fundraising this year than ever and bought lots of things (Talons, 775s, Limelight, NavX), none of which we had before. However, we would have to double our budget to attend Worlds and would rather spend it on robot stuff. We’re curious how many teams are in a similar situation if anyone happens to have data on how many teams can’t afford Worlds. We are thinking this may help us fundraise.
Second reason we cannot attend is school. Our students are very dedicated to robotics in my assessment, but they have missed 4 days of school and 3 full weekends this season (2 District events and DCMP) and it is very hard on them academically. The thought of missing 3-4 more days and another weekend is very problematic for them. Several said they are almost glad they cannot afford to go to Worlds because it would be a very painful choice. Plus they don’t think they will be competitive and aren’t sure what benefit they will receive from going. If there are students out there who can offer advice on how you deal with it and if it is worth it, I would appreciate it.

I’m sure there will be lots of posts below this extolling the benefits of attending Championships (I wonder if I will ever stop calling it “Nationals” in my head, but I digress) and there will be those stating the reasons why it may not be worth it.

Those are very individual choices that your team has to make: what is the cost and are those benefits aligned with your intentions as a robotics program. I’ll leave those comments to others, I wanted to share some ideas around paying for it.

Our biggest costs as a team aren’t robot components but travel and registration costs. My team competes in district events and those can be pretty cheap - no need for hotels and school buses for travel each day back and forth. It’s even possible to travel home each night during the district championship, but maybe not preferable to wake up at 5:00 am to get on a bus three days in a row, but it’s not impossible to do.

By saving money that way, our team can raise money not for travel each year but perhaps on alternate years. You stay in-district one year, travel out-of-district (or go to Worlds) the next. It pretty much cuts our fundraising goals in half and our students still get the benefits at least once during their time on our team (assuming they join as a sophomore). Just realize there are different ways to get at these problems, and those solutions need to make sense with what you’re trying to do as program.

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They should not be missing ANY school. Surely the teachers of these students know what they need t learn on those days and can write down what they need to accomplish by the time they return? And, students can be made responsible for doing it?

Just being at a competition does not excuse assignments. And with a few students in the same class (or former students of the class) studying as a group is not only efficient and effective, but a good thing to learn how to do. OK maybe not for Gym class, but AP Physics for sure.

It’s a bummer that you can’t afford Worlds; it is a humbling experience and worth it. But missing schoolwork is not an excuse to not go, as this is trivial to address effectively.

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i count that your students missed 3 already? Im confused by your logic. Do you just not take them on competition days and skip those matches?

Going into it with that mindset isint smart. Not everyone can be a top team, but being able to play your strengths and going against what are the best teams in FRC, much less earning a spot to do it from a district setup, is an achievement in itself. It doesnt matter if you arent a top 8 alliance captain, you earned your way to the top stage.

As for paying, we were in a similar situation in 2017. Our district gave us $7000 (still amazed by that as they wernt too on board with how much school we missed and how much we cost, just like yours) for registration and to help send drive team, but the rest had to pay their way with last minute ticket costs ($1100 for flights alone) and many chose not to for obvious reasons.

We wernt that competitive either (placed 32nd and was lucky enough to get picked and win an award) but we had a blast being in a new place, meeting teams from all over the world, and got to learn from the best in person. We’ve budgeted better since that year, and the goal since has been to go to worlds just because of the experience.

Personally, i think its worth it, but i was also on the receiving end of the funds from the district in 2017. This is a choice for your team to make. I think part of our success post 2017 is directly related to going to worlds, and the upgrades in our manufacturing and general quality and willingness to actually iterate and make changes stems from the teams we met while in Houston.

:clap::clap::clap:

You made investments in equipment this year, and it looks like it paid off. If you qualified for worlds next year, then I imagine that you will qualify again next year, especially if you make an investment in your team’s equipment or inventory!

In 2016 my old team qualified for worlds, but we decided that our robot wasn’t competitive enough for worlds, so we instead decided to save the money and invest in our program instead. The next year we ended up on Einstein as a first pick. I and other team members attribute the success of our 2017 season to our decision to not go to worlds in 2016.

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I’m not sure you followed what he was actually saying–which wasn’t actually “missing school”, more “missing schoolwork”. So yes, they took their students to the competition. However, the students planned ahead and made sure that they had their schoolwork available to do, or other makeup plans in place, so that they could still learn and not need to do as much catchup at the end.

All right, so back to the OP’s questions.
First, try to fundraise for Worlds, regardless of whether you’ll think you make it in any given year. If nothing else, it’s extra budget for parts that year or the next. Include travel.

Second, there are ways to reduce the missed-school part of the equation. For example, do you really need to take the entire team to the entirety of all competitions, or can you get away with bringing a subset of the team to any given competition, and especially a different subset to each event? Spreads out the missed days and reduces the days any individual student misses.

I’m not going to say whether or not you’re making the right decision–that’s your team’s call, and I understand both ways. What I am going to say is that you may want to plan on getting the Worlds invite in the future, and work accordingly.

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If “Missed” means “Not in school” then yes. If “Missed” means “missed the educational content of those days” then no - they all got their assignments and did all they needed to do from those days not in school.

Administration likes this.

Granted, some teachers did not assign anything, but they all had invitations to provide their students with classwork.

Now I cannot say that all the kids DID the work, but these are the robot kids, so most of them probably did.

I might be biased, but I would say that it is always worth it to attend Champs if you haven’t been before. We’re on an uncharacteristic Champs streak and heading out to Detroit or Houston is the best motivation possible for rookie students to stick with the program.

We were fortunate enough attend CMP with two teams that hadn’t been before in 2017, and both are now seriously competitive. I won’t say that a trip to Houston is what pushed them forward, but I won’t say it hurt ;).

At the school where I mentored, making up classwork was of course required, but missing class was still a big deal to the administration even when the work was done. Getting the two days (Thursday and Friday) for a day-trip competition for about two dozen students was OK, but anything more (either more students or more days) was a hard sell. Fortunately, “earning” the trip to CMP in 2015 bought another few days (the principal definitely likes winners), but a second regional was always a non-starter even if the money had been available. This year, they went to Rock City because it was during the week of the Mardi Gras holiday; not sure how future years will work out. They earned a second trip to CMP (Houston) this year; likely made easier because Good Friday was already a school holiday.

And OBTW, YES, CMP is worth the trip if you can swing it. the team’s inspiration level the past four years (after going to St. Louis in 2015) is definitely higher than the first four years; qualifying in 2018 was probably at just the right time for another bump.

One shouldn’t underestimate themselves. Its not over till its over, you never know what happens till the buzzer goes off! Many a times the first alliance loses to 8th alliance in quarter finals. One would expect 1st alliance to take home the blue banner, there is no one reason, but things happen. Attending the world championship is worth, if you can afford financially and logistically, if not, don’t regret. Continue what you are doing and if possible do community outreach and demo your robot in schools and libraries, sponsors and potential sponsors. You never know who you will come across, when my team was demoing robot in public library (they love to host such events), a radio host had stopped by and promised to talk about it in his program.

Just like it is impossible to adequately explain to people what an FRC regional is like, Championship is even harder to quantify. Student and Mentor inspiration most certainly increases.

If you can swing it, I highly suggest you at least take the deserving seniors and drive team.