It sounds like you’re unsure of several things and especially of your own abilities. I want to tell you, and want to make sure you hear, that being a mentor is about being able to guide students than being a pure knowledge transfer. Coming here to ask means you are interested in successful students, all you need to do is spend time learning with them, and setting them on the right path.
I saw a really great presentation a few weekends ago by FIRST 135, Penn Robotics. They’ve implemented FRC in the classroom in a really unique way. Contacting them may give you ideas - http://robotics.phmschools.org/contactus/
I have students who arrive with other skills, like video, or photography, or web design; how do I utilize those skills, in addition to teaching them robotics?
If you approach it as teaching them to run a FRC program, you can absolutely utilize these skills.
Video/Photography - Students can be tasked to create an end of the year montage or to figure out how to profile the team best with these mediums. I’m even going so far as to encourage my team to create a short film about our past two year’s robots.
Web Design - Build a team website. Build other apps, how about an attendance app, or a finances app.
How do I teach my students how to fundraise (since, even if this was a class, the school wouldn’t fund lodging, van rental, and trips to meets, but would use the sports booster program)?
http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/first-fundraising-toolkit is amazing. Look through there and you can literally implement most of those documents that are written. Don’t worry right now if it’s good or bad, but spend the time yourself to read through those documents, get an idea of what other teams fundraising structure looks like, and work with students to emulate it.
Fundraising is hard because it’s a higher rate of failure than most things. I tell my students for every 10 companies they contact 2 or 3 may get back to you, and 1 MAY donate.
Be the hope for them and keep pushing them.
How do I teach them how to write grants, if I never have?
This is also hard, but if you look at the fundraising toolkit and develop several of those documents. Grants should come much easier, it’ll be a lot more copy paste.
From my limited experience with grants, you really have to determine what the grantor wants (this is true for other donors as well). Figure out what aspect of FRC is most appealing to them and highlight it.
How do I teach my students about electricity, when I don’t have a lot of intrinsic knowledge of it?
I think you answered yourself:
I know there are tons of cool projects to be done here.
The point of FIRST is to take learning to hands-on. Do a cool project.
How do I teach my students about programming, when I have little knowledge of it?
Simply. Learn it. Download LabVIEW, and play with it.
And, perhaps the most important, how do I help to get female students involved at all levels?
This is a personal goal of mine as well, and by far the hardest. My current solution is that I ensure that all of the students on my team do different activities from STEM activities to fundraising to volunteering. It’s easier for me to deal with 10 students, but I basically in my head have a plan for every single one. I know which student (in this case female) struggles with math because of her confidence, and so I ask her to build a workshop table.
It may be harder, but there are some students, males and females, that love robotics and will be willing to do anything. Others whom you have to pave a path for to do anything. And while I naturally notice a tendency for females to shy away from the STEM aspect of the team, there are males that do this too.
How did co-ed teams recruit their first female students, and how do you make robotics a place that is welcomingly co-ed?
My solution was to encourage student recruitment, but even the females on the team prefer not to recruit other females. I’m currently at a lose for a solution. I’m still trying to encourage students to recruit others and have been dropping subtle hints about what some of their classmates are up to. We have an open door recruitment policy, so anyone is welcome to join at anytime. I’ve seen some students hang out in our room, and my hope is that I can get some of them interested.
I wish I could give you books, but I do a lot of experimenting on my own accord. Combining with stuff I read about teaching (I’m not a teacher), and learning about what other teams do. Hope this helps.