Here's our Advice column For TEAMs NEw to FLL!
- Plan out your Strategy: Before you start building, plan out what missions are your top priority, and what attachments you'll need for them, so that you have a clear vision.
- Always do your own work: Judges can always tell when a team relies too much on mentors or parents.
- Use positioning tools: Build your own positioning tools or put a border around your robot to maximize point value and the effectiveness of robot runs.
- Make attachments easy to attach and remove: Doing this will save lots of time.
- Don't add anything extra: If there are sensors or motors that aren't being used, remove it.
- Find a relevant problem, and plan out a solution: Teams should always identify a problem that is relevant to the theme of the season. You might want to make more than one problem-solution groups, and then decide which one is the best, based on feasibility and novelty
- Make a prototype: This helps judges understand your project better, and it makes things more interesting.
- Get in touch with experts: If you do this, they can give you and your team helpful feedback to improve your prototype or solution.
- Make a skit: It helps judges understand how your prototype works, and it makes things fun and interesting.
- Inclusion: Make sure that everyone understands what the team is doing, so that everyone learns something. Everyone always needs to be involved!
- Practice: Make sure to practice some core value activities together! These challenges are not only super fun, but also help prepare for the core values challenges you may find in competitions, and help you get to know your teammates.
- Avoid fighting: Talk out your disagreements, and reach a solution that benefits everyone.
- Prepare some giveaways: This will raise morale, and is sort of a thank you to give to everyone! Doing small activities like this together builds better connections.
- Do Fun Activities: Teams can do fun things like bowling. This helps everyone build more friendly connections with each other, increasing your teamwork dynamic.
- Create an Identity: Come up with names and slogans to become unique!
- Talk to other teams: Interact with other teams and get to know each other at competitions. You can learn a lot from others! This also raises the spirit of friendly competition
Split up the work
Our team has found that splitting up work into sections helps with efficiency and time management. It also allows team members to focus on a few subjects, instead of doing everything. In FLL specifically, you want to make sure that everyone gets to be in a team that is part of Project, and a team that is part of Robot Game. In Project and Robot Game, you want to figure out the different sections (Programming/ Building/etc., Problem/Solution/etc.), and place team members into those sections based on their strengths. However, there should also be a time where the whole team works together on things, like when doing Core Values challenges, or having a break in between.
Make sure to talk to experts and help out new teams (if possible)! Go on Field trips to learn more about your project, and to help you formulate your ideas. Then, when you've figured out your project, share it with the people who helped you develop it! Try to share your project and skits with your class, other children, and experts. Make sure you get their feedback, so that you can build on your project.
When you go to a tournament, you'll generally make a tri-fold presentation that is displayed in your pit and is shown to the judges. We always made 3 tri-folds: one for Project, Robot Game, and Core Values. In the tri-folds, you want to make sure to include your thought process, and the different parts of that subject. For example, in Project, you would want to include your problem, solution, experts you met, and many more. You should also include a lot of pictures, and make the tri-fold look organized so that people are drawn to it and it's easier to read. We also had binders which included the information in the tri-fold for people to read, if they preferred that, and judges to keep.
Discover and Share
Discover and Share is an amazing method, that allows teammates to get to know each other and learn about something new! Every week, one member of the team presents about a topic of their choice, that relates to FLL. That team member does research on the topic that they choose, and makes a 10 to 15 minute presentation to explain it. This way, everyone learns about it, and team members get more used to presenting!