So, okay, I mentioned before that this past weekend the FIRST Robotics team that I run had an outstanding FIRST LEGO League tournament at our school. It was everything you could ever hope for: the veteran members and adults helped lead the newer members through everything that needed doing, the teams of middle schoolers and their families had a good time, the events ran on schedule, and the results turned out pretty much good enough that no one could complain about anything. We’ve heard from numerous guests that, once again, our team did a great job.
And then there was the "inside story": One FLL Team (Team A) had some issues with a parent who was getting, shall we say, a tad too enthusiastic about getting the kids to follow his way of doing things. Under the guise of "look what my son did over the weekend", he tried to strong-arm the rest of the seventh graders into abandoning their efforts and adopt the LEGO bot that he (and his son) built at home. Recognizing that this would defeat the entire "team" approach, the team’s coach (and the rest of the kids) balked at the prospect of his approach. Upset with the rejection, this guy found another local team (Team B) five weeks into the eight week season, joined, and convinced them that they needed to abandon their ideas and go with this new fangled approach.
At our competition, the Technical Judges were easily able to see that the Team B didn’t really understand how their robot worked (i.e., they didn’t build it). However, since the kids performed well in the Research Presentation part of the competition, they won a ticket to the State competition next month. Word on the street is that this guy took the robot home after the tournament was over, and has been spending lots of quality time with it (and his son) rebuilding / reprogramming it so that it will perform better at States. Aside from the fact that this violates the spirit (if not the letter) of the FLL regulations, doesn’t this guy realize what he’s doing to the rest of the team?
Sometimes I take a lot of criticism about how I run my FIRST team, but there’s not a single student who ever feels that the mentors have more of a say than they do.