- SCOUTING. I can’t emphasize how important scouting is at the championship. That being said, since you have a small team, and may not have enough students to be reliable scouters, ask other teams in your division for help. Likely there is a veteran team that has a scouting database set up and they’ll probably share their information with you. If you can, set 6 students in your stands and have them do nothing else but scout. If you can’t, send at least 3 and have them bring a notebook to write key facts about each match.
Come to the web hug if you have time: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=94729
It’s always nice to put a face to the name, and it’ll be a chance for you and your students to network a bit - you never know when that will come in handy!
You’ll find a surprising amount of time to talk to other teams - in the pits, waiting in line for food, in your hotel, etc. While this is certainly different than your regional, you’ll still get a well-rounded experience without trying very hard. In past years in ATL, teams have played soccer or frisbee during the lunch break, so send your students out to meet other teams during that time, or encourage them to walk around the pits for an hour on Thursday just to see all the cool stuff other teams created/brought.
The conferences/NEMO meeting/mentor breakfast are all great things, but in my opinion, they’re just extras. The nice thing about NEMO is that, while it’s great to meet some other mentors, all of their resources are available online or through contact with Jenny Beatty & Kathie Kentfield (And they’re both on CD!) I would recommend the mentor breakfast, however, if you’re looking for an opportunity to connect with other mentors and help build new partnerships.
Give yourselves at least 30 minutes + travel time. When our team travels we set our wake-up call to 1 hour BEFORE we have to leave. We give ourselves an extra 30 minutes, just in case students are running late or there’s traffic, etc. Getting to the arena early is better anyway, you guarantee yourselves better seats. And while this doesn’t SOUND like a big deal, for your scouters, it matters. Take the students you NEED first, then send the rest later. Ideally, the students that need to be there when the doors open are a) your drive team, b) your pit crew, c) your match scouters.
See something! One of the things I am most disappointed about in regards to my trips to Atlanta the past few years, NOT touring the Coca-Cola factory. Plan time on Wednesday/Sunday to take your students to see something that’s memorable in the area. We also try to schedule a team dinner on Friday night, just as a chance to de-stress and have some fun. If you’re going to do this, make sure you make a reservation! Generally, your kids WILL be tired - whether they know it or not, so we tend to do in-hotel activities. Suggest that they bring video/card games to play, but remind them to be respectful of other hotel guests.
Before you leave: Check out the public agenda & other relevant info on the Championships site: http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/content.aspx?id=4190
Team 1208 put together a really good pdf on things you can do / need to know in St. Louis: http://www.stlouisfirst.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ILo9QvU5cNQ%3D&tabid=240
Spend some of Wednesday night learning the route between the pit and the field, both for your robot AND your spectators. Sounds dumb, but when you’re in a rush and being queued, knowing where to go makes a BIG difference.
If you need help, you’re going to have to ask for it. DEFINITELY have pit admin make announcements for you. Don’t rely on pit admin alone however, work with the veterans in your division. Get to know a few of them on Wednesday night/ Thursday evening and let them know that you might need their assistance. They’ll tell you the best way to get their attention/help. They were rookies once too!
Remember to HAVE FUN! Championships is HARD, but it’s also an AMAZING experience. If you feel overwhelmed, stop, take a break and just breathe it all in.
The venue is REALLY busy. Suggest that your students don’t wander around alone - have them always walk in at least pairs, and make sure that one adult/chaperone knows where they are at all times. Exchange cell phone numbers, and send text messages. The venue is loud - students are more likely to notice their texts than hear their phone ring
Last but not least - SEND ME A PM! I will be attending Championships with my family & two of my students. Our team isn’t competing, which means we’ll have some free time. Scouting/strategy are my expertise, but we’ll also have mechanical/technical support, programming/sensors/electronics help, non-tech/judging help, and more. I’ll happily donate some of my time, and some of the time of my other team members to make sure you have a successful championship!
Best of luck!