What does your team do for Kickoff?

As kickoff 2010 approaches and our team starts to plan for it, I was wondering what other teams are planning on doing this year. Here in SC, our regional kick-off is so small that our whole team can’t go, so we’re planning to get together at school, something we haven’t done before. I would love to start the season in a way that is both useful and fun, especially to new members who aren’t quite sure what it’s all about yet. So I’m wondering, both out of curiosity and for information, what do other teams do? Do you have a celebration to get the team excited about build season, or get right down to business designing?

Here at 810, we usually attend the kickoff event hosted by a local state college. That usually lets out around 11:30ish, we break for lunch, then meet in the meeting room of the local library for 3-4 hours just to discuss the game/rules/strategy. Most of the time we don’t meet the sunday following kickoff, inorder to give everyone time to think on their own without the chaos of a group meeting. Then on monday we start the build season in full swing.

Team 228 has traditionally sent a few mentors nearly every year to Dean’s house for the Founder’s Reception to schmooze, who then stay over to the next day for the Manchester Kickoff. There, we take photos of the field and get a chance to play with the field components for a few minutes, before it’s time to leave (while back in Connecticut, our team members and other parents and mentors are usually watching the webcast). Then we read the game manual on laptops on the ride back to Connecticut, and fully absorb the game (read: browse Chief Delphi non-stop to make sure we somehow didn’t overlook something in the rules that others found) until our traditional first build season meeting on Sunday afternoon, followed by our annual Kickoff Pasta Dinner fundraiser.

As a year-round team (we had 117 team meetings in 2009, not counting competitions or fundraising/community outreach events), we consider Savage Soccer, VRC, fall FRC offseason competitions, and our pulled-pork fundraisers to be our fall team-building exercises. :smiley:

1714 always goes to the Waukesha Kickoff, then drives back to the shop and as a team, reads each and every rule in the Rulebook before doing anything. That way, everyone is completely familiar with the rules before brainstorming. If I remember correctly, most major brainstorming happens the day after (other than what people think of that night); the first day is game and rules discussion almost exclusively.

Usually, right after kickoff we had a break for lunch. But after that it was almost impossible to restrain the designs floating around in everyone’s heads. From a practical standpoint, starting the design right after gives less time for everyone to get fixed on what they think they way to design is. A brainstorming session before going home (if run well) should hopefully get everyone clear on the rules, and the value of as many strategies as possible.

We usually go to RIT (this year kickoff will be happening at Theater on the Ridge at Kodak park) for our kickoff followed by a strategy session immediately afterward to figure out how the game is played. Not to design a the robot (that comes on Sunday) but to figure out what has to be done to best play the game. You can’t design a good robot if you don’t know what you need to do to win.

115 actually hosts a kickoff event in our school’s auditorium. We invite teams from around the South Bay, discuss strategies, and watch all the kickoff videos.

If any teams are interested feel free to email us at mvrt@mvrt.com

Our team always goes to the san antonio kickoff held by one on the teams from here. We do a couple of there workshops then its off back to the school to start design and strategy.

1676 goes to the NJ kickoff which is held at NJIT. We attend the different workshops and have a good time. When we get home, we re-watch the game video a couple times to answer our own questions, gather new information or game tactics we didnt see before, and to brainstorm what would work best. After watching the game video a couple of times, we set up a make-shift game with chairs and tables in our school cafeteria (our school lets us), and we basically play the game. We like to do this because we get robot P.O.V.s as to what works the best. When we are finished, we go back up, watch the video, brainstorm, and then call it a day by about 9 o’clock or so.

Here’s (another) west coast perspective…

A team of five or six people meet at the school at 5:45am to watch the kickoff and pick up the KOP. At around 11:00, the rest of the team meets up with the first group to watch the latter half of the kickoff and discuss the game.

Basically, not much different from what other teams do, just earlier :confused:

Um, actually, we RUN several of the workshops…

2815 and 1398 (and any other teams that want to come–PM me if you’re one of them) will watch the Kickoff telecast from the comfort of home base–Amoco Hall in the fabulous Swearingen Engineering Center. The biggest lecture hall in the building, it’s plenty of room for everybody. (Indeed, it’s where USC held its festivities when it hosted the remote kickoff for South Carolina from 2004-2007.) One of our mentors (who happens to live up near Clemson and has to be there anyway as part of the regional committee) will sign for everyone’s kits and drive them back to Columbia. From there, it’s fluid.

Team 1507 watches kickoff which is patched through our local TV station and spends the rest of the day figuring out the rules and what the game actually is. After if we feel comfortable we start to write possible strategies but the bulk of that isn’t until Sunday.

Right, my bad. facepalms :o

We run several of the workshops, and the ones who are not running the workshops attend them.

Team 3193 - Falco Tech - is attending an unofficial kickoff event at the high school of the Mahoning Valley’s most veteran team, Team 48, along with the other rookie team in our area, Team 3209. After the kickoff presentation, they’re serving lunch while copies of the rules are being printed up. I believe they’re giving a presentation of a typical brainstorming process, then the students are breaking up into groups to discuss the rules of the game and how everyone wants to approach it.

Should be fun!

Would you think I was nuts if I told you we spend a portion of the afternoon preparing parts and material ordering lists? :wink: :smiley:

We do the same as many teams. It starts off rather casually, as we wait for the kit in line, and joke about large fans, springs, and curtains in the robot design. Then as soon as we get the kit loaded into the back of my truck, we ferociously rip it open screaming “How many CIMs!?” Then it’s off to breakfast at a local diner, and then to the school. The students watch the recording of the kickoff many times over, and we make sure everyone understands the game. Then we scrounge for a whiteboard marker, usually come up with only dead ones, and give up and go home. (j/k!). Then the usual bit, brainstorming, how to handle the game piece, how to do it faster/better, how to fit it all, etc. We try to continue this to the point where we don’t leave for the day until there aren’t any major flaws in our plans.

It seems that my team’s kick-off plans change from year to year.

This year, the county school board is much more “involved” than they were last year, which is never bad. They have highly encouraged that we attend kick-off at a county location along with other teams from the county/region. (We have like 6 teams in our county alone :D)

So we have accepted and we will be meeting there to watch the kick-off. We will be sending representatives down to the Georgia Tech Kick-Off to pick up the kit of parts.

Usually after the kick-off, we give things a little time to simmer and we go to lunch. This gives people a chance to work the rust off some ideas that they immediately thought of, and we wait for the reps that went to the official kick-off.

After lunch break, we usually take about an hour to go over the game, make sure everyone is clear on how it’s played and some of the ins and outs of more complex rules.

And then we dive into brainstorming. We generally spend about 2-3 meetings (each is about 3 hours long) thinking of ideas, and from there we generally break into prototyping, building chassis, gearboxes, etc.

Providing we have the satellite link, our team meets for a team breakfast (the works cooked by one of our mentors), then we sit around a few screens and watch the kickoff. Generally, when the kickoff is over, we mull around for a few minutes and then tell everyone to go start reading the rules (no really…read the rules!) in preparation for brainstorming the following Monday. Our adult mentors then get together on Sunday for the purpose of ordering field parts, doing our own brainstorming, eating (again!) and generally making sure that we are ready for Monday. I have found that getting the team together for that first day is not critical, but very worth doing…in fact, we are installing DirectTV this year in our facility so that we CAN meet as a team on that Saturday.

Team 1322 usually meets up at Kettering where the kickoff takes place for our area. The different teams go to the auditorium where we all watch the videos for that season. The G.R.A.Y.T. Leviathons then snag a classroom in the general area and go over the rules and how the game works. We talk about different ideas while eating food and drinking beverages that someone from our team brings for us. Some people go get the kit for the year and meets up with the rest of us to check out the game field parts. Not everything happens in that exact order, but that’s just the general idea of what goes on at Kettering.

Well I am taking off from where my above me Rosie left off!! I usually ask the kids to keep a journal from Saturday-Monday night when we will meet again. From there EVERYBODY presents there ideas on how the game should be played. We have some creative people who will come in with cardboard models. I love it. We then discuss all the ideas and usually take a little bit of everybodys ideas, and design around that.

On the Saturday following the Kickoff we meet with approx. 15-20 other teams to discuss how they interpet the rules and how they see it being played. This can be a real eye opener. Everybody can interpet the rules their own way so this can really turn into quite the debate. This is just meant to be be nothing more than a help session to all the area teams. I always learn something new as well. Some teams will bring drawings or they simply discuss what they are building. Our area has a group called MMRA and all but 1 team are members. Our job is to aide each other as much as possible.:smiley:

I am seeing a lot of pizza eating in my future!!