Team Member Applications
I noticed that the question of how to pick team members in FIRST LEGO League is asked very frequently on the Share & Learn Facebook Group so here is some information pieced together from seven years in the program and from reading many posts on the topic.
On community sports teams, all kids are accepted regardless of talent and skill levels. Once the children reach “travel teams” age, there are tryouts required and children must fulfill certain criteria to be on the team. There are also elite “club teams” in sports that cost more and promise more.
FIRST LEGO League teams are no different. On some teams, all are welcome. The goal is to provide an enrichment activity for all kids. Prior skills don’t matter and the coaches help develop all the children. Some have tryouts before a student is added on the team. These teams are looking for children with a particular skill set related to robotics. Many have an application process to make sure that the child and parent understands the expecations and that the child understands what being on a team means. Some robotics summer camp companies even select the “best” students to be on a team. These teams have yet another goal in mind.
It is up to the team founders to decide what type of team they want to be. FIRST LEGO League can be a great fit for any child - gifted programs, robotics clubs, Girl Scouts, neighborhood friends, after school activity, special education, etc. No matter which type of team you are, one thing remains the same: Be clear about costs and expectations up front.
Being Up Front
Be as up front as possible from the beginning. Here are some points to consider and communicate to potential students and team members:
1) How much money will each student have to provide?
2) How many hours will you meet and on what day(s)? Will there be additional hours needed for homework/field trips?
3) How do awards work in FIRST LEGO League? Who will keep the trophy if you win anything?
4) What role(s) will each student play? Who will run the robot at events? How are such decisions made?
5) FIRST LEGO League is more than building with LEGO bricks. Students will be expected to work on the Research Project too.
6) FIRST LEGO League is team work. Students will be expected to work together, compromise, etc. Sometimes, their ideas may not be accepted by the group.
7) FIRST LEGO League is a commitment. Students need to show up regularly to meetings and to competitions.
8) Who does the work in FIRST LEGO League?
9) What help (if any) will the parents need to provide? Snacks? Transportation? Volunteer at an event? Can parents and siblings attend all the team meetings too?
10) Does the student have any special needs/interests/fears the coach and other kids might need to be made aware of?
11) What is your coaching philisophy/mission/goal for the team?
Sample Applications and Contracts