21 November 2008

Training last night...

Last night was the first with only the mecchies, and I learned a couple of things.

First, with a smaller group, and in a 'remote' location, the chaos was less noticeable.

Second, and more importantly, the smaller group allowed a higher degree of interaction. The group all had a chance at getting hands on the lathe. We're going at a pretty rapid pace, not exactly the best scenario for training, but exposure to and a little experience with the machines is 'way better than none at all. As with anything, skill comes with practice.

The night, however, didn't go without a hitch. As we entered the shop, the teacher was present and objected to our using it. Needless to say, I ignored him, as he was exiting for the night. His claim is that we didn't "agree" to our using it prior to the build season.

Well, guess what? I don't care what he thinks we "agreed to" or not. He's off the clock, and I'm not, our paths don't cross, and I will not be intimidated. With him, I generally first consider the source, then summarily dismiss him as a nuisance.

What was not acceptable is the embarrasment he caused for our faculty advisor, in the presence of her supervisor, who happens to be his main squeeze. Nice working environment.

It will be interesting to hear from Lisa what Tom has to say about the interaction last night.

17 November 2008

Another successful event...

This past weekend Team 166 hosted an FLL regional meet, which are now being called "qualification" competitions.


Only 16 lego league teams were registered, but on reflection, the meet went smoothly. Not because of the fewer number of competing teams, that did have an effect, but the fact that T166 has done this for several years, we've gotten the process pretty well established.

Tweaks, here and there, for sure, but nothing major. The most striking thing this year was the newest scoring software package that allowed teams to see their rankings instantly, as well as the up-scale look and feel of a FIRST competition, complete with sounds and an on-screen timer.

This year, we put the scoring table and display between the two sets of playing tables and had the teams enter the playing area at the sides, instead of the middle. That seems to have worked out much better.

Day went well, except for one accident in the mens' room where personal injury was sustained, severe enough to require surgery. That was performed yesterday, and was successful.

One other incident marred an otherwise perfect competition. Seems that one parent took a photograph which caused the flash to fire, whereupon another female parent, of the same team, made a comment. The picture taker allegedly took offense and made a verbal, abusive comment and even appeared to be positioning himself for a physical altercation. Her husband witnessed that gesture and stepped in, and somehow, physical contact was made.

What's sad is that he wouldn't or couldn't contain himself, but chose to make a scene and ruin his son's experience as well. What adds to this unfortunate situation is that this person is known to some of Team 166's adult members, and his behavior is not unusual. He has history with Team 166.

While I was not present to witness any of this first-hand, I had been told, by several others' and their recollections of the incident are similar. I have no reason to doubt anyone else's recount of the event.

Some adults never grow up.

12 November 2008

Lead meeting - spiritied planning session

Last night was again an interesting view into the soul of Team 166. Because of the Veteran's Day holiday for the school, we met at our faculty advisor's house.

All the team leads were present, the sole purpose of the meeting was to finalize the schedule we will attempt to adhere to this season.

They engaged in an enthusiastic discussion about how to include the rookies into the design process. All seemed to be wary of the rookies' ability to offer constructive suggestions, more concerned that they'd be impediments to progress, but also agreed that their presence was necessary to prepare them for the years following.

Other issues that were not-so-on-topic, was the sheer number of rookies and what needed to be done to ensure they are engaged while a core design team developed the machine. Without something to occupy their time, boredom will certainly set in, and there then exists the potential of losing members.

07 November 2008

disturbing news delivered last night...

Another good night was enjoyed by Team 166. In addition to the slew of team members actively engaged in training, there was also a parent meeting.

A little crowded, for sure, and things were going well, or so I thought.

I had been assured about a week ago that the ProE software, whose licenses expired at the end of last school year, would be reinstated and we'd be up and running this past Tuesday. Well, that didn't happen, and while I wasn't surprised, I am now getting quite upset about the lack of support we're getting from the school. I'll never get used to this utter lack of commitment, nor the lack of worth in someone's words.

Not only does this affect the FIRST team's training, it has been affecting the curriculum of the mechanical drawing teacher as well. Because there's a workaround, the IT person doesn't feel compelled to make good her promise to get the software installed.

Ok, that affects the everyday classes, but now, according to our faculty advisor, several students who signed up for the ProE training and subteam and considering quitting the team.

Is it time to start considering going over others' heads to get things sorted out??


03 November 2008

Have thew new team members gotten the "fever?"

On Saturday, T166 participated in a traditional fall season mini-competition, not far from home. River Rage, hosted by Manchester West High School is almost as old as FIRST itself, and so has become the "place to compete" in the fall. What makes this more fun than usual (which is hard to do in the first place) is that there's a theme that teams are encouraged to adopt. So, teams adorned in costumes of all kinds are in attendance.

Team 166 generally uses the mini-comps to introduce the noobs to FIRST with a hands-on approach. Mentors sit in the bleachers, the veteran members take charge and run the operation. Drivers, robot maintenance, and all aspects of the competition are taken care of by the team. It's a learning experience that goes 'way beyond what they learn by listening.

The awards that were presented are tokens, but the award that Team 166 presented to itself, by the veteran members to the rookies is one that no one can take away, or put a price tag on. What they were introduced to, in addition to this fall competition tradition, is another tradition that started a number of years ago; the post-competition team dinner.

What better way to build a team, but break bread with one and other.