Team Size

Someone currently on the team can correct me but I think between 11 and 193 there are something around 150 members (around 10% of the school)

Team 1860 is a open door team, no registration or test needed.

But, here in Brazil FIRST is not that strong and we have 60 students.
15 of them traveled for the Regional (Dallas and Lubbock), and 10 for the Championship

We also have 12 senior mentors (with more than 4 years mentoring) and 3 rookie mentors this year

We have a team of 16 students and 3 mentors. We love having a small team! It allows the team to be more of a family. We would love to have more members, but with more members comes more people who slack. We started the season with around 25, with about 5 quitting before kickoff. The other 4 didn’t last long after that. We have divisions for CAD, Building, Drive, Programming and Business, with most people in 2-4 divisions.

No team size is too big. The problem is not having enough active members. With more people, you can have more brain power working on something. In addition, you can grow your team’s subgroups - for example you could start a website.

Every year, our team learns new things, and we update our resources so that other teams (and the following year’s leads) can follow suit. However, if we had more active members, we would get things done faster (including designing and building our two robots/season).

Sidenote: Our team has 45ish registered students, with something like half of that active. On the side of our mentors, there are 15ish (who are all active), but they specialize in different areas. A few of them are there to be on our Board of Directors (yes, we are a community robotics team, who is a registered charity). When we were part of the local school, 10% of the students there were also on the team. Now that we are a community team, we have access to students from the Catholic school board (who make a 45 minute trek every day), home-schoolers, and students willing to make the trek from other nearby towns (although our numbers have not changed much—there aren’t many students willing to drive 45 minutes each way).

TL;DR: More active members is better than more members, and you can grow your team into more than just robots.

There are teams that are too big, and there are teams that are too small. There are probably teams that are too big with fewer members than other teams that are too small.

The appropriate size for your team is a function of a number of variables, the most important of which are resources. If you have a big enough budget, enough space, and enough dedicated mentors (including one “big enough” to tie it all together), you can have a team of 100 members building robots, doing videos, award presentations, outreach, and mentoring of other teams and be looking for more members. If you have a $10k budget, a single car garage for a build site, and one mentor, ten student members building robots Jan-May and writing awards and doing outreach Aug-Dec may be too many.

Grow your team resources as you grow your team membership.

It’s about balance. You need to have a balance of students, mentors (technical and non-technical), facilities, funding, and planning. Things start to go haywire when a team is out of balance. Usually this means a team has too many students or too little of any of the other things.

One problem that I’ve seen is uneven sharing of student STEM growth opportunities. This is very important but it often takes a backburner to getting things done. Most teams want to put in their best effort as a collective, so the team relies on the most experienced students to do much of the work. This can lead to an imbalance between experienced students vs inexperienced students.

To avoid this pitfall, you need to look at your resource-to-student ratios and plan carefully. Focus on providing skillbuilding and practice opportunities among less experienced students so they are not crowded out. Nothing makes a someone disengage faster than having nothing to do. It’s very important to make sure that the students aren’t die-hard STEM fans aren’t crowded out by the ones who already are.

I agree. I think as long as the ratio between students and mentors is kept in check, a team can grow large without seeing many problems. Mentors that can keep students on task is a big help to make a season run well.

I agree. It’s far more about who the students and mentors are, and what the team does, than about how many students there are.

It would be interesting to see what is a statistically normal number of registered students. Are there statistics available for that anywhere?