student competency

Posted by asher at 1/5/2001 12:14 AM EST

Student on team #31 from jest first.

The one true problem I see with FIRST is the lack of student input on some teams. It was so disheartening to talk to some students standing around their teams pits when scouting, all they did was refer you to an adult, in most cases and engineer. I know that from my team at the very least high school students on the team do 95% of the building and ALL of the animation. It isn’t a competition based on how much funding you have or how may engineers you can have so you can go one that fun trip to Florida - or is it? I don’t think its gone that far yet but that may be where its heading. Just a crazy thought perhaps…

asher
the team with no sponsors

Posted by Adam Krajewski at 1/5/2001 4:22 AM EST

Engineer on team #221, MI Roboworks, from Michigan Tech and Houghton Area Schools and Meritor Automotive.

In Reply to: student competency
Posted by asher on 1/5/2001 12:14 AM EST:

Last year, I was a student on one of the best financed teams in the competition. This year, I’m an engineer on a team with a very limited budget. I don’t think anyone will argue with the fact that it is much easier to build an absolutely amazing machine that does eight times as many things in one sixteenth the time if you have an army of engineers and machinists working on it. But this “myth of money” is often blown way out of proportion. We don’t see the teams with the most money leaving everyone else in their dust. Look around regionals or nationals and you’ll see so many great teams that have neither an enormous amount of money nor a big name.
Sure, it is always disheartening to see students that don’t know very much about they’re machine. But I don’t think it is cause to write off a team. There are many reasons why a student may refer you to an engineer rather than answer scouting questions themselves. I would not jump to the conclusion that the student did nothing/very little on the team.
I also think you’re missing the point of FIRST. FIRST is not about winning competitions. FIRST isn’t even about building robots. FIRST, as the acronym suggests, is about getting people, high schoolers in particular, excited about science and technology. I can see that you’re excited by building robots. You seem very passionate about it. It certainly feels unfair and unjust that other teams have much greater funding. But try to remember the spirit of the competition. Think about the kids that see or hear about the competition and wish they could compete in it. Be thankful that FIRST inspires that kind of response. That there are kids who watch a 30 blurb on FIRST on the TV news see science and technology as exciting as any other sport. That how I see FIRST. Be proud that 95% of your robot is student built and smile every time an engineer or other adult tells you “I wish they had this around when I was young.”

Adam

Posted by Chris at 1/5/2001 9:02 AM EST

Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.

In Reply to: student competency
Posted by asher on 1/5/2001 12:14 AM EST:

I think on each team you get varying levels of competency among the students. Your experience with a particular team is most likely not indicative of the entire team but more of the individual that you spoke to. For instance, any student member of our build team could tell you a lot about our robot. However, members of our animation team or PR group might refer you to an adult since they are less confident about the details of the robot. The people in these groups have their own important activities to attend to while the robot is being built. Even though we make an effort to educate these groups on the workings of our machine, there is not good substitute for being involved with the build for 6 weeks.

-Chris

: The one true problem I see with FIRST is the lack of student input on some teams. It was so disheartening to talk to some students standing around their teams pits when scouting, all they did was refer you to an adult, in most cases and engineer. I know that from my team at the very least high school students on the team do 95% of the building and ALL of the animation. It isn’t a competition based on how much funding you have or how may engineers you can have so you can go one that fun trip to Florida - or is it? I don’t think its gone that far yet but that may be where its heading. Just a crazy thought perhaps…

: asher
: the team with no sponsors

Posted by Chris at 1/5/2001 9:08 AM EST

Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.

In Reply to: Re: student competency
Posted by Chris on 1/5/2001 9:02 AM EST:

Side note:

Adding the pictures of the posters to the message was a great idea. Now we don’t have to go to the competitions wondering who all these people are until we the web hug. (I haven’t posted in a while so I’m new to some of the web site upgrades.)

The only thing is that I’ll need to submit a new picture. People who know me will notice something different when they see me at the competitions: no glasses! Thanks to successful LASIK surgery, my glasses are history!

-Chris

Posted by asher at 1/5/2001 1:12 PM EST

Student on team #31 from jest first.

In Reply to: student competency
Posted by asher on 1/5/2001 12:14 AM EST:

I was in no way saying that most teams have this problem nor was I saying anything about winning competitions, but it is awful hard to interest a student in engineering and science and whatnot if they cannot tell you the most basic functions of their robot. Sure its great they are there possibly showing some interest but that little spark can only go as far without knowledge. Our professor/enginear that works with our team gives a test over our robot on the plane to Florida, if you don’t make at least and 80% your going home. We want everyone on our team to be able to tell anyone, weather it be a judge or a member from another team, all they need to know about our robot. On some teams shirts it also said if the were on the building crew, animation, ect. Even when I asked those with the “building crew” title on many teams they told me next to nothing, or talked about the cool paint job. I mearly made this post to give others a thought to ponder as we start this all over again. nothing more.

asher

Posted by Ken Leung at 1/5/2001 1:24 PM EST

Student on team #192, Gunn Robotics Team, from Henry M. Gunn Senior High School.

In Reply to: student competency
Posted by asher on 1/5/2001 12:14 AM EST:

It’s really frustrating when seeing an adult working furiously in the pit at competition while the students stand aside watching, especially when that adult is hack-sawing a piece of steel. This has been a kind of a problem in FIRST, but I don’ think it’s seriously enough to push FIRST to any kind of end. BUT, I do think that this does not match with the real spirit of FIRST.

For me, our team has always been student-run: it is the students who design the robot, grab the materials to the shop and actually make the parts of the robot and put it together, no to mention designing the organization needed in a team activity. The adults are just there to give advice, and rarely are they actually working on the robot. And this, has been a really fulfilling and educational experience for me personally. This is how I learn my way around machine shop and become interested in Mechanical Engineering

The spirit of FIRST is to get students interested in technologies and science. And sure you can get students interested if you get them to be part of the project, but I believe it’s much more meaningfull if the kids are deeply involved. It’s all about one question: Are you involved in the project or are you commited in the competition.

My little opinion, about this issue, is that the adults got to step aside a little bit to let the kids run the show. And that, I think, is the ultimate goal of FIRST. After all, the adults are already inspired about technologies and science. It will be a much more educational if the students have to take this on their own and take charge, come up with ideas and work on the robot with their hands. There is nothing wrong with a team having huge resources and helps, but it is, I believe, wrong if the huge resources and helps take the project away from the kids…

So, I say good luck and have fun to you, asher. This competition is always tough on the students, and I think it’s worth it and they will really get a lot out of it.

P.S. I can’t believe it is almost Saturday and I am here posting at ChiefDelphi Forum, even though I am actually at kick-off right now.

P.P.S. I have to say, Joe Johnson look a lot taller in real person. It’s been a real honor to meet you face to face, Joe!

Posted by Kate T190 at 1/7/2001 7:57 PM EST

Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Mass Academy of Math and Science and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

In Reply to: Involved or Commited…
Posted by Ken Leung on 1/5/2001 1:24 PM EST:

Ken, you make a lot of good points… But I’m not going to knock them or praise them… I just want to point out that inspiring students about science and technology is different things for different people… And it also depends on the student… Some people learn hands on… Others learn by observing… Just from your message… I would guess that you’re a hands on learner… I could be wrong… But that’s the impression that I get…

T190 XO
Kate