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FLL Coaches Corner

Managing an FLL team is an endeavor that will consume as much time as you want it to.  In order to help facilitate your learning, Moorestown Robotics has created a specialized DropBox repository with a wealth of useful information.

Dropbox link for 2018: link 

There, you can find materials for 
  • What a coach needs to know, day 1
  • A sample schedule for the season
  • Sample lesson plans for coaches
  • Where to download software for the EV3
  • Preparing for your team for the qualifier
  • How to navigate core values
  • Lots of robot materials, such as
    • Building instructions for various sample robots (adapt your own from those!)
    • eBooks on building with Technic bricks
    • Various tutorials on learning to code the EV3
    • Ideas on robot attachments
Week to Week Management:
It is highly recommended that you plan out your season. 
Don't know where to start with that?  Use the lesson plans in drop box and/or use the First Steps training, which also details week by week goals.
Having a plan will help ensure your team is prepared for a competition.
As you get close to competition day, you will feel like you are far behind where you wanted to be.  Don't panic. That is NORMAL. 

Qualifiers/Championship Competitions:

Moorestown Robotics will help get you registered for your qualifiers.  Dates can be found here (link) on Rowan's website. Sometimes we can sign you up for them, other times the coaches are required (the region keeps changing the rules).  Either way, we will need to know your ranking of what days to compete from most-preferred (1) to least preferred (4).  What date Rowan assigns you to will be based off of preference and how quickly your team is registered once they open up the sign ups.

All FLL Competitions have 4 main components.  Be sure your team is ready for each of them:
  1. Project Judging
  2. Core Values Judging
  3. Robot Design Judging
  4. Robot Competition
Each of the 3 judging sessions are about 10 minutes in length.  There is normally time for some sort of presentation or demonstration by the team, followed by Q&A.  Coaches can not interact with the team or judges at all during these sessions.  If you do, your team risks being disqualified.

The team's scoring will directly depend on how they match up with the rubrics.
A tip from experienced teams is to KNOW THE RUBRICS and have the kids understand what they need to do to score well.   Where can you find the rubrics?  Here is a link to them on the FirstInspires site (link).

Project Judging:
During the season, teams will have to work to solve a real problem as it relates to each year's topic. Teams will be judges on their Quality of Research, their Innovative Solution, and their Presentation.

Core Values Judging:
Teams have to prepare a Core Values tri-fold.  Instructions for that can be found here.
Often there is a secret task that has to be done during the judging session.  The kids will be asked to do something and the judges will see how they interact.  They wont be graded on if they complete the task, just on how they interact when doing the task.  
Teams will be judged on their Inspiration, Teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism.

Robot Design Judging:
In this judging session, teams get to showcase what they did for their robot and explain why they made certain decisions in their designs. Usually, but not always, there will be a robot table available for the kids to run their robot on.
The rubric for Robot Design focuses on Mechanical Design, Programming, and Innovative Strategy.

Robot Competition:
When preparing for the competition, the team will develop a strategy for maneuvering the robot on the field that maximizes the number of points yet is simple enough to complete consistently within 2 1/2 minutes.
At the competition, each team will get 3 attempts to get as many posts as they can in the 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  Only 2 kids can be at the table at one time, though team members can tag in and out to swap who those two people are.
The goal for this part of the competition should be to score at least as many points are you did at home.  If your team approaches this part of the competition with that goal in mind, their "success" will depend just on them, and not how other teams perform.
Even though teams get 3 attempts at the table, the highest score from any of the 3 attempts is how you are compared against other teams.  If two teams are tied in their highest scores, the second highest score is also used for placement.

Sample FLL Qualifier Schedule:
Each qualifier will publish a schedule before the event, but it is often not until the week immediately before.  Therefore, we receive a lot of emails from new coaches, frantically looking for more information.  Unfortunately, we often don't know more than the new coaches, but we can estimate how the day will flow from previous competitions.  Here is a SAMPLE schedule.  Please be flexible in understanding that the schedule for your competitions will be different from this:

7:30am  FLL team Check in and Pits Open

7:45am FLL Coaches Meeting

8:30am FLL Judging begins

9:00am FLL Practice Rounds begin

11:45am Opening Ceremonies

12:30pm  FLL Qualifying Rounds Begin

2:05pm  FLL games end

2:30pm  FLL Closing Ceremony

Managing Parent's (and kids) Expectations:
Remember the real goals of FLL... 

(As stated to all parents and coaches before the season starts:)
FLL and FLL Jr help kids explore technologies and a real world problem in a fun way.
Hopefully as part of that, they learn to work as a team, do research, solve problems, and HAVE FUN.

Your team's and their child’s goal should not be to WIN at this.  It’s about experience and learning through teamwork.  No matter how your team does at a competition, your team should feel like winners given what they learned through the preparation for the competition.

"FIRST is more than robots. The robots are a vehicle for the kids to learn important life skills. Kids often come in not knowing what to expect - of the program nor of themselves. They leave, even after the first season, with a vision, with confidence, and a sense that they can create their own future." - Dean Kamen

“We’re not using kids to build robots, we’re using robots to build kids.” - Dean Kamen

When the expectation of parents and coaches get out of alignment, the coaches job can become a lot more difficult.  Some common questions you might get asked if there isn't good communication are:
  • Why isn't my child running the robot (at all/every time) during the competition?
  • Why isn't my child spending more time working on _______? (programming/project/research, etc)
  • Why aren't you teaching my child programming?
  • What do you mean we aren't trying to win this competition?  
  • I thought this was just a LEGO building party...
Communicate early and often to your parents... and PLEASE don't make the mistake of insisting your own child is the only one who does something on the team just because they are the coach's child.

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