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Los Altos Robotics Team Formation Support for 2015

This page provides information for coaches and team members on how to participate in the Los Altos Robotics FLL Program.

Participating in Los Altos Robotics FLL


Please read all of this page before registering your team.

If you are looking for volunteer roles, look here.

This page has several references to due dates from past years.  Use these as a guide to inform how this year's season will work.

Team Formation

Los Altos Robotics does not assign or place children on teams.  Parents and coaches are responsible for grouping children into a team, and then registering the team with the national FLL organization.  Parents and coaches can use the TigerBots mailing list to find teams or team members - there is more information about finding and forming teams below.   We also have "I Need a Team" registration for players who are NOT currently on a team.  Again, this information is below.  Be sure to come back and read all of this page if you choose to skip down to the More Ideas for Organizing and Starting a Team section.  Los Altos Robotics supports team formation by providing parents information about other participants at their child's school.  We also provide training and other resources for coaches.   We recommend that each team is made up of both a coach and a team manager. The coach should focus on coaching.   The team manager should deal with all team finances, registration, and scheduling.

We ask that all parents check with their children to make sure they want to be on a FIRST LEGO league team before signing them up.  It is clear to the coordinators that several of the children in past years have been less than enthusiastic about being on a team.  They end up playing with the LEGOs and detracting from the experience of those that are excited about being on a team.  Worse yet, they may prevent others from being on a team because we run out of space.  So please don't sign them up because it will be "a good experience" for them.  If they are excited about being on a team, we are excited about having them on a team.  You may also want to visit the frequently asked questions page.

Each parent and child should print out and complete the Los Altos Robotics player and parent contract. You need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Coaches will typically collect these documents at the first team meeting. Coaches must also submit the Coaches' Promise at the scrimmage or tournament.

Expenses

NorCalFLL provides 2015 cost guidelines Note:

  • Generally, team fees are paid by the team manager up front and reimbursed by dividing the amount among the players.
  • The National registration fee referenced is paid to National FLL.
  • The Northern California Qualifier Tournament fee must be paid to NorCal FLL typically in October. It is very important that you pay your local fees and submit liability waivers to NorCal FLL by their deadline, so that your team can sign up for a tournament as soon as the tournament selection process begins.
  • Los Altos Robotics may have some tables available for sale for $50. If you would like one, contact us as soon as possible. The fee is payable at table delivery. You can build the table yourself as long as it complies with FLL specifications. FIRST provides plans and instructions for building a table yourself. Your team can potentially share a table with another team if the teams meet at the same location at different times.
  • If your team advances to the Northern California Championship Tournament (January or February), then there are additional fees ($225 estimated in 2015).
  • Your team needs one or more Mindstorms kits to participate, but you don't have to use the kit sold by National FLL. If a team member already has an RCX, NXT or EV3 set, that's fine to get started with. The kit sold by National FLL has some extra sensors and pieces, but you can buy these on the Internet as needed (e.g. www.bricklink.com) as long as what you purchase are official LEGO-brand parts.
  • The "Other Expense" listed at the bottom of the budget refer to supplies needed for the Challenge research project and for conducting team meetings. $20 per team member is a reasonable estimate.

Registrations

Registrations are limited at the national and regional level, therefore, register as soon as you know that you are going to have a team. You don't have to have your team roster finalized.

1. The team must register with the national FLL organization The registration fee is paid at the time of registration. We recommend registering by early to mid August so that you receive the Field Setup Kit by early September. If you have not registered by Sept. 15, you are likely to miss the season because you will not receive your Field Setup Kit in time or because the available National FLL team slots are filled.

2. You must follow the "Qualifying Tournament Registration Instructions" at NorCal FLL . The NorCal FLL organization has the final say on what Qualifying Tournament you attend. Be sure to send in your liability waivers and local tournament registration fee on time in order to have the best chance of attending your preferred local tournament. NorCal FLL maintains a list of qualifying tournaments and a report of team status. Their registration status page shows the number of teams registered for each of the qualifying tournaments in Northern California.

3. The team must register with Los Altos Robotics to participate in a Los Altos Scrimmage and NorCal FLL for a November Qualifier tournament. Registration for the Qualifier tournament does not guarantee a place at the LAR scrimmages.

Event Support - Volunteers

In order to put on the October and November scrimmages, Los Altos Robotics needs support from each team.

1. All teams participating in a scrimmage are expected to provide one worker for each event. There are a variety of positions available to suit different time schedules and interests. Most require only a couple hours of time. They're easy, they're kind of fun, and they directly contribute to the kids' enjoyment of the event. See the Los Altos Robotics Team Volunteer Roles page for more information on these volunteer positions. Indicate your position preferences on the team registration form.

2. All teams are expected to provide a table and Field Setup Kit for one of the two events. Indicate your event preference on the team registration form. Your support is as important as your registration fee in enabling Los Altos Robotics to conduct the scrimmages. Los Altos Robotics reserves the right to deny participation at the scrimmage to a team that has not provided support for that event.

More Ideas for Organizing and Starting a Team


Do you have any more specific ideas to help our child be on a team this season?

  • First of all, you are not alone!  Many parents trying to form a team are going through the same confusion.  Most of us have had experience with youth sports, like AYSO soccer, and are used to having teams formed by the league.  FLL does not work this way.  Parents are responsible for forming the teams.  While it is a little more work to form a team for robotics, there are some big upsides.  You have the choice of players which means they can participate with friends.  The teams are much smaller and more manageable.   Here are some things to help parents form a team:
    1. Ask your kids the names of their 3 best friends.  Call the parents of each and see if they want to do robotics.
    2. Ask your kids who in their class likes science.  Call those parents.
    3. Sign up to be a coach!  Seriously, finding coaches is harder than finding players.  If you really want to make sure they are on a team, be their coach.  The whole philosophy of LEGO Robotics is to let the kids do the work.  You don’t need to be an engineer to coach, and there is lots of guidance and support available from the National FLL and Los Altos FLL.  Just be willing to spend some time with the team, help with organization, and have lots of positive energy.
    4. Use your mailing lists… past sports teams, other activities like dance, music, scouts… you probably have the e-mail address of 100 kids in all those messages.  Send out a short message letting everyone know you are interested in forming a team.
    5. Split the coaching job.  Often busy lives or travel schedules prevent people from volunteering to coach.  Find another parent and offer to split the duty.  Another way to split the job is to have one parent host the meetings and another coach.  Yet another way is to have one parent be the team manager and take care of all of the none technical tasks and have a coach lead some or all of the meetings and take care of technical things like installing the programming software on computes and helping the kids with it.
    6. Come to the Parent Orientation Meeting on (be sure and check back on the home page before the meeting date to make sure the date or location have not changed) August 24, 2015 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Mountain View High School, 3535 Truman Ave., Mountain View, in room 522.  "This is a great opportunity to hear from other parents on what's involved in coaching a team, an overview of the season, and plenty of time for Q&A.  I hope to see many new families join us this year!" says event leader Betsy Atler.  You may find other parents without a team there.
    7. Post a message to the TigerBots Email List(see sign up information below). This list is used for all Los Altos Robotics announcements.
      • If posting to the TigerBots email list looking for a team, it is helpful to include Name, age, grade, school, phone#, and how you are willing to help without with running a team.   Here is an example:

        Subject: Loyola School 5th grade boy looking for a team

        My son, John, wants to be on an FLL team this season. He plays with LEGOs all of the time and is really looking forward to being on a team. I am willing to help out with the team in anyway that I can. I don't have any experience but am willing to learn and lend a helping hand. (Or something like: I am willing to be the coach if one is needed or help out in anyway that is needed.) My son plays soccer so meeting on Friday afternoons after school or dinner and Sunday after lunch would work best for us as far as meeting times. Please call me at home at 965-xxxx, at work at 408-328-xxxx, or on my cell phone at 303-xxxx or send email to me at user@mydomain.com.

      • It is very helpful if at least one person from each family involved in FLL in the Los Altos area joins the Los Altos Robotics TigerBots yahoogroups.com email list.  You can find out more about the list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TigerBots. Your email address will be kept private and not distributed outside of Los Altos Robotics board and coaches.  To subscribe, simply send email to: TigerBots-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.  If you decide to unsubscribe, email: TigerBots-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
    8. The "I Need a Team" Registration is For Players Who Are NOT Currently on a Team and teams looking for more players. If you submit an "I Need a Team" registration, we will share your information with others that register and their information with you.   We will also share it with local area coaches.   We also suggest that you post to the TigerBots email list to increase your odds of your child being on a team.

      Until September 1, 2015, we are accepting player "I Need a Team List" registration at the following location:

      Los Altos Robotics Player 'I Need a Team List' Registration (click here)

      After September 1, you may continue to register, however, many teams will have filled up by then and you may need to form a new team.

      You should print out and have you and your child complete the Los Altos Robotics player and parent contract.  You need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Coaches will typically collect these documents at the first team meeting.

      Since the player is not on a team, specify team preference information if any.  Leave the team name and coaches name blank.  NOTE: Los Altos Robotics does NOT assign players to teams. You will still need to find a team or form one.

      Teams will collect fees in the range of $120 - $200 per player to cover expenses such as purchasing the Challenge Kit and a robotics set for your player to use during the season.   Refer to team registration below for more details about team expenses.  Los Altos Robotics DOES NOT collect player registration fees. Some teams will collect something like $125 up front and then collect any additional money after the season expenses are finalized.  

      Registration does NOT guarantee that your child will be on a robotics team: Unfortunately, every year there are players who have to be turned away because they cannot find a team to be on.   The limiting factor is finding a coach for the team.  Los Altos Robotics is working hard to make it as easy as possible for coaches.  Volunteers build playing fields for coaches, host parent orientation meetings, and take care of keeping people informed.  We also can have mentors attend meetings to help players resolve issues and do planning.  For more information on forming teams, please read here.

      Registration Agreement: All team members are expected to help design, build, and program the robot.  Team members can specialize or work on a variety of these tasks.  In order to be an effective team, members who are disruptive or disrespectful inside or outside of the team meetings will be warned and then removed from the team.  The coach will have final say in who is accepted, removed or kept on the team.  Team members removed will not be reimbursed fees.

      Parent Participation: When filling out the registration, you should specify if you have interest in any of the following roles: Team Coach(1), Assistant Coach(1-2), Team Manager(1), Practice Session Host (provide a large room for the team meetings).

      We ask that all parents check with their children to make sure they want to be on a FIRST LEGO league team before signing them up.  It is clear to the coordinators that several of the children in past years have been less than enthusiastic about being on a team.  They end up playing with the LEGOs and detracting from the experience of those that are excited about being on a team.  Worse yet, they may prevent others from being on a team because we run out of space.  So please don't sign them up because it will be "a good experience" for them.  If they are excited about being on a team, we are excited about having them on a team.  You may also want to visit the frequently asked questions page.

Good luck. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me.

Michael Schuh MichaelLosAltosRobotics.Org, (650) 965-8037 (Home), or (650) 604-1460 (Work)


Los Altos FIRST LEGO League Homepage.

Changes Log:

30 Aug '14 Updated for 2014 season. Michael
07 Jun '13 Updated for 2013 season. Biswa
29 May '13  Updated "I need a team" link and information. Michael
26 Aug '12 First update for the 2012 season.  Michael
17 Aug '11 Updated "I need a team" link and information. Michael
12 Sep '10 Updated participation information for 2010 season. Murray
07 Sep '10 Updated for LAR registration to use Google Docs form for 2010 season. Lordemann
27 Aug '08 Updated for '08 season. Murray & Schuh
29 Aug '06 Updated it some for '06 season.
21 Aug '04 Clean it up and clarified some text.
26 Aug '03 First cut.

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