1. How can I get my child on a team?
The best way to ensure your child gets in a team is to be involved. Teams begin forming at our Information Night, in the Spring. YIS does NOT place children on a team, but rather provides several forums for parents and students to meet to form their own teams. After the Information Night, there is typically a Team Formation event in late May or June, providing some more information and another opportunity to meet other parents. In August, there is a Last Chance meeting to form any teams that are still not complete.
2. What if a team has no coach?
The ugly truth is that if you do not have a coach, then you may not have a team. However, ANYONE can coach if they are willing to learn and ask for help. We do have mentors from vetran YIS teams that are willing to help new teams. In addition, Rockwell Automation offers workshops for coaches and teams to help them through the technical challenges. Other parents can help with the clerical duties so the coach can focus on coaching.
3.What is a good age to start with Lego League?
The kids can start at any age. The younger (K-3rd grade) teams are slightly easier to coach, but what better example can you give your child than to jump in with two feet?
4. How much time commitment is there for a child?
Like any sport or activity, the child will get out of it whatever they put in. However, once the team has decided on a meeting schedule, it is very important that the child attends all the meetings, unless there is an illness. This is very much a team sport.
Typically, Jr. FLL teams (K - 3rd grade) meet once per week for 1.5 - 2 hours. Part of that time will be snack time, and often there is a team building activity. There is a Friday evening scrimmage in November. Jr. FLL tournaments are typically held on a December weekend between 9am - noon.
An FLL team will meet once or twice per week, possibly more, closer to tournament time. FLL meetings are typically 2 hours long. Expect a new team to commit at least one Saturday in September to a robotics workshop, possibly a field trip sometime, and two Friday nights (or Saturday mornings) in November for scrimmage and presentation practice. Local tournaments are run in December. Expect one full day on a December weekend.
5. If someone is interested in coaching, how much commitment is it?
The coach will need to be at the meetings and events as well (see above). Most first year coaches report spending at least an hour or two a week early in the season to prepare for meetings. There is a coach training session at the beginning of the season that takes most of a Saturday. Two or three Coach Roundtable meetings are held during the season to answer questions and provide additional support. They are typically an hour or so in the evening. As the season moves on, you start to forget how much time it takes because you are having so much fun.
6. Does one need a science or engineering background to coach?
NO! The jury is still out on whether or not it is helpful, although a basic understanding of the scientific process at an elementary school level is important. A coach needs to keep the kids focused and on task, help them ask probing questions, seek answers, and brainstorm with graciousness, but shouldn't provide answers.
In addition, YIS offers a Coaches Roundtable twice a month in the fall to help new coaches with questions or provide ideas.
7. What is the age cutoff?
At the age of 14, students are no longer able to participate in FLL. By the 9th grade, they move on to FTC - FIRST Tech Challenge. We do have FTC teams within YIS.
8. What is the difference between FIRST Lego League and those classes we see at the library and the Great Lakes Science Center?
I like to use a sports comparison with this one. Consider that the Lego classes are excellent opportunities for the students to learn robotics techniques and building tips - much like they might take a summer camp for soccer foot skills or to learn how to be a goalie. I encourage our students to participate in these activities as much as they like (and wear their YIS t-shirts when the do!). Lego League is a team sport that incorporates the robotics, scientific inquiry & presentation, and core values.