Team Size

So my team is relatively small (only about 20 members who came more than once during the season) and I was wondering what you guys’ preferences are for team size. Personally, I was thinking about attempting to make our team up to 40 active-ish members next year in order to have people to cover all the different awards/tasks, but I’m not sure if that’s unrealistic or too big. One of our mentors thinks that we should do interviews and become even more selective, but I don’t think that’s what FIRST is for, honestly.

4967 had 24 students this year. I’ve (personally) always felt that about 25-30 is a good number. However, I’ve never been involved with a team above the ~25ish number so I can’t truly speak from experience.

We have 100+ members and far too few mentors and good leaders. I would say to try 1 mentor to 10 kids maximum. 40 active members is definitely doable (many large/good teams function like this) as long as you have the leadership to guide them. At a certain point team size starts to make the team function less effectively, although I can’t say for certain where that is.

Our team is about the same size (20 members or so). Now, in some ways, I consider this to be a good size. If there are fewer people around, there’s a greater chance that none of them will be sitting around doing nothing and distracting those who are working, because they will all be preoccupied with an important job. However, this has proven to not be the case. Most of the time, students don’t show up, or do, and don’t do the work anyway, which puts a lot of strain on the other half of our student body that commits a lot of their time to our team. So 40 members would be great for our team, as hopefully it would increase the amount of dedicated members. It all depends on the dedication and work ethic of the students.

I agree with your wholeheartedly on the interview issue. The only time I would find it appropriate to have “tryouts” of sorts for a FIRST program is if there are an overwhelming amount of students applying to be on your team, and even then, I would consider either starting a new FIRST team for the students that didn’t make the cut (which I know can be expensive) or referring them to another smallet area team.

Hope this helps!

Big teams are not necessarily bad, but you need to make sure that you have a solid structure in place to occupy all of those kids. 1124 had a bit of a similar situation, with our team size going from around 20 to as high as the mid 50s, then back down to around 35ish in the past four years.

That many kids will be very hard to manage and occupy productively without good planning (or at least it was for us, it’s very possible you have better solutions in mind).

Some teams, like 254 for example, have member counts around 100- it’s all in how you manage and engage them. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into

Thank you so much!! I also want to create very solid leadership and add more mentors to the team, so hopefully that will go along with adding more students.

We have 30ish members and 2 full mentors (and a few parents who really started helping too) 6/10 would recommend more mentors.

My team consist of 9 members. I’m actually proud to say that. We are a small team that is competitive. When we told people at Worlds we only had 9 people, they were shocked. But with any team, there is about 1/3rd to 1/4th of the team that doesn’t do anything. The percent is roughly the same no matter how many are on the team. This is my opinion and doesn’t reflect how my team feels though. Just talking to other teams, most have about the same number percent of activities members. It’s now always that percent but close.

We had about 20 active students and 10 mentors this season, and it has been on of, if not, the most successful in our team’s history. We won our first district event, finished states higher than ever before, and had our best showing at worlds. While a smaller team can be challenging, I think it really comes down to commitment and the ideas within the team. I think our team is a great size; everyone works on the robot in some fashion, everyone contributes, and everyone plays a part in the success or failure.

When I was on 2502, we had about 55 kids. Only about 30 kids were major parts of the team. The team has grown much larger since, and we’ve added more sub teams so there are a lot more things for people to get involved with now.

Team 346 has a pretty solid size team we are about 60 students with 20 mentors. We enjoy having a closer connection between students and mentors to get a more personal experience. With a 3:1 ratio it is very easy to keep all the students occupied and working when the season has come to a lull. I personally would not be opposed to growing my team to 80-90 but it really depends on the place that y’all work in.

Can you really double a team’s size in one year? At least in my view, such a large increase would need to be a 4-ish-year plan. If half your students are “freshmen”, I can’t imagine there being enough leaders (student or mentor) to adequately guide the new students so that they can be active participants. To grow, you also need to grow structures and systems (sub-teams, education…). But you know more about your team than I do.

As a member of a small team, I have really appreciated how we only have about 20 students. A smaller team makes it easier to learn by doing and branch out in a variety of areas to find out which area we most enjoy, rather than being assigned to a sub-team.

However, I agree that it can be challenging for a smaller team to have enough people to work in every group. For example, as a graduating senior, I looked for someone to take my role as safety captain, and I ended up going to an 8th grade FTC student who should be joining the team next year.

973 has 19 students, all of whom are very committed.

In your case, I agree with some of the other posters in this thread. You should train up your freshmen and try to increase team size gradually. Otherwise it might negatively impact the team in many ways (EG, leadership stress due to more student management).

I also don’t think that interviews are a good choice. Some kids who may not be eloquent or demonstrate commitment in the off season may become hardworking and passionate. Those who join came for a reason, and some might be better at demonstrating it than talking about it.

During my time on 75 we always had 100+regestired members although we would vary from 50-80 active members depending on the season and what competitions we were going to. We always had great mentor support and our warehouse never felt small. It wasn’t until this year that we made a minimum fundraising req. in order to be considered to attend the competition. With that in mind we never plan on moving to a selective process as we try to be as open as possible. Plus it makes it easier to accomplish tasks the more members you have

IMO, grow your team. 20 is enough to make a robot, but not enough to truly become inspirational to a large school.

Your mentor has a valid concern with respect to managing student behavior. While I too disagree with interviews - they very rarely bring out the true student - you will want to address behavior and respect concerns up front with every new and existing student.

Get your team to drop team seniority fallacy. The person who has performed with mediocrity for longer is often worse for a job than the person who has performed with ambition for a shorter time. However, leaders are not dictators - listen to the experienced people.

Good luck!

Our team is about 55 members with about 30 actively committed students. We have about 10 to 15 active mentors as well, which works very well. This year we worked really hard to make an actual application process to ensure we got more committed students. Even having to fill out a paper application to join the team helped us weed out some of the people that would never show up. We never plan to turn anyone away, but sometimes I wish we could because there are too many students who have a hard time finding stuff to do.

My team is pretty normal sized, with about 25 or so active members. It’s a nice amount of people, but about 50 or so people came at the beginning of the season. I do wish we had more people come, a lot of people either don’t know we exist or can’t find our lab (which is understandable because one of the schools has the 3rd largest campus in the country and the other one has to travel to my school, the big one, for lab). But considering we probably have at least 4000-5000 kids to pull from between the two schools, the participation rate is very low. We plan on working on outreach, business, and recruitment this year because we’ve never really been that good at those parts of FIRST in the past.

I feel the same way. We have about 100 members, and we generally have 20-30 around at any given time during build season, with 40-50 active. This is too many for us to effectively use. One solution we’ve been considering is having a schedule, but no one wants to be told that they can’t come and do robotics.

We have about 30 official members with 18 or so showing up on any normal meeting day. We’ve had up to 30 active members in my opinion that’s about ideal. For the first time this year we faced a lack of people to do our jobs (especially in terms of build team) and four or five more active members would’ve been pretty helpful. Much bigger than that and there aren’t always jobs for people to do.

My team is relatively small with only 14 members this year, but only a few attend meetings regularly. Our members are not divided by which sub-team needs the most help, so we have 3 in build, 3 in CAD, 3 in programming, and 5 in electronics. 5 of our members are rookies. Our business/media team was cut this year. We had 10 mentors, including our 2 coaches, but only a few of them regularly contributed to the team. For next year we hope to reorganize the team’s structure, cut back on mentors, and hopefully recruit more members.