Ok before I go into details pertaining to starting the team I will explain my situation. Currently I am a student (senior) at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC. It is a statewide magnet school for juniors and seniors in high school and is where I first came into contact with FIRST robotics. After this year I will be leaving and moving just a little ways down the road to NC State. Although I have been gone from my home school for a two years I am interested in starting a team in the county. My twin brother is going to college within driving distance of the county (he isnt here at NCSSM with me) but I will not (3 1/2 hours away). I need to know who to approach in the county, the school board, Superintendant of the school systems, technology coordinator for the schools? I have contact with all of these and would have no problem getting a meeting set up with any of them. I have already written up a proposal but I was just wondering who would be the best to start with?
It is a small town/county but I have contacts (esp machining and welding as that is what my dad does every day :D) I have talked to some people and I think that I can get at least enough funding to support the team through some contacts. I can also acquire some mentors to help out as well. So who do I go to first?
BTW the superintendant is new and wants to make big changes in the educational system of the county
Thanks for the link, but I have already read all of that and it doesnt really help out with who to go to first. I have interested faculty at the schools in the area so that isnt a problem. I just need to know who in administration should I contact in the beginning?
If you have interested faculty and you have the money then all you really need is students. Having the admnistration on your side is nice but isn’t a necesity. At least not for starting the team. I would say that if you got the teachers next you need students. Then you need the funding and professional support. Unless you were wanting the school to fund this you wouldn’t need the administration until you had to get out of school for a couple days. You can let the administration know but it is best to do that after you have the student and the money because they will have a hard time saying no after you’ve secured these things.
You sound like the contacts are made for the support of getting a team started. That is great so far! The next step and probably the most important is getting a faculty member of the school to buy into the program. Typically technology teachers take this role on with the assistance of both the math and science teachers. However any teacher could hold the position of the team leader. One of the advantages you have is the support network you have started. It is virtually impossible to get a first team running w/out the assistance of others both financially and hands -on help.
I’ve just moved about an hour’s drive away from my team, and while I plan to stay with them this year (I love these kids to pieces and I will miss them very much!), next year I’d like to start a team at my local high school. The problem is I don’t have the contacts yet. I only know the band director because I play with the community band. Perhaps he could point me to a technology or computer science teacher? How do I approach the administration with the idea?
High school robotics was a completely foreign concept when I moved here. I started with the principal of the high school. I wrote a letter and used some of the information from the FIRST site about the benefits of having a team. She gave me permission to give presentations during lunch and contact teachers to ask if I could give presentations in their classes. Next I contacted businesses and the College. The business I wrote a presentation and burned each company president a CD with Pictures, Video, and more information. For the college I met with the president and discussed what the college could do to support the team. I go to a small college in a small town (the high school only has 500 kids). We also got a few homeschoolers who heard about us from the high school students. After that we went to the college and local newspapers and asked if they could run an article about the program. Most of them did. Later this season we’ll give a presentation to the school board. I’m also going to try to start a club here at the college for students who mentor and support the high shcool team. If we can set clear goals, an official college group can get funding from students senate, and we could use that to pay travel fees for college mentors. That’s the plan anyway.
Wait, so, did you go to the high school where you started the team or were you trying to start a college-sponsored team? I’m a little confused.
(As an aside, I wish my high school had had a robotics team, but that would have been way back – 1992-96. I heard about FIRST from a few friends once I’d graduated college, and from someone at work whose son was on the team I work with now…)
Sorry about being confusing. No I didn’t go to Albion High School but I started a team there when I started college here, at Albion College. In high school I was on 226 (Troy, MI) and I still mentor them too. :]
Hey, thanks for your help! I play in the community band which is directed by the high school’s band director, and I approached him after rehearsal tonight. Turns out the school already has a FIRST team, and he gave me the appropriate person’s e-mail address. I’ll just have to switch over to mentoring for the new team, maybe mentoring both teams this year…
Speaking of which, what has been your experience mentoring for two teams at once?
Do you have any potential schools in mind? If so, I would contact the principal first (set up a meeting time, dont just try to do it over the phone). Bring as many photos and brochures as you can. The principal will be key in getting started at the school. You could ask for names of some teachers who might be interested, and do a little presentation or something. (I have some introductory presentations if you are interested). If you already have interested teachers, include them in the meeting. Talking to the school board or superintendants is a bonus, but rarely required in starting a school club, so shoot lower, you are more likely to get a hold of a principal. (Note: If you dont have any schools in mind, try to pick one that is as close to you and your potential mentors as possible. Distance becomes a big issue over a 6 week period).
Do you plan to try to get the University involved? If so, you might see if there is a director for technology related clubs or competitions (like at Clarkson it was called SPEED, and included teams like solar car, mini baja, etc.) If not, try and find a similar club and approach the faculty advisor and ask him/her who to talk to at the university.
Do you have a corporate sponsor in mind? If so try and set up a meeting with someone (preferably some sort of high up manager/vp ) who you think might have some interest in the program. Human Resources can often be a place to start if you dont know anyone, as they are often interested in employee community service and can get you in touch with the right people.
I would approach starting a team in this order (I’ve started both a university and corporate team now, so if you have any questions, PM or email me :)). Keep in mind that if you are trying to get a corporate sponsorship, obtaining this kind of money will take you 3 or more months if it is a good size corporation. Smaller companies can get through the paperwork faster, but usually have less capital asset to spare.
Thanks, but I’m in MA. (I used to live in southern NH, hence I’m with a southern NH team.) Also, the school I had in mind apparently already has a team – I’m waiting for their faculty advisor to contact me regarding mentoring.